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Adrian St. John II, 85, a Major General in the Army who was considered an architect of European security, died January 6, 2007, at The Fairfax retirement community at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where he lived. He had congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Peace — a soldier’s ultimate goal. Fairness — a negotiator’s goal. Democracy — the equality and respect for the individual within the community. These were Major General Adrian St. John’s goals which he succeeded in accomplishing in a lifetime of distinguished service and extraordinary achievement. Major General St. John’s tireless efforts have exemplified the words in West Point’s motto: Duty, Honor, Country.
Adrian St. John’s entire career as a military officer and as a statesman was defined by his intuitive ability to manage people and their resources.
“What did this officer do best?” General Fillmore K. Mearns wrote simply, “Managed his people and his other resources.” General Cobb wrote that Major General St. John’s “. . . meticulous attention to detail, outstanding organizational ability and personal supervision resulted in an imaginative and unique resolution to complex problems . . .” General James Collins wrote that he was impressed with Lieutenant Colonel St. John’s ability to explain complex command arrangements and relationships into understandable thoughts and words.
Adrian St. John’s entire career as a military officer and as a statesman was defined by his intuitive ability to manage people and their resources. This talent for relating to people combined with his military training and discipline enabled him to enter areas and negotiations throughout his career that were often expressly forbidden to other U.S. officials.
His military service began with the war in Normandy and finished 54 years later with the combat in Broko, Bosnia. Major General St. John entered the United States Military Academy in 1939, weeks before Germany invaded Poland, and he graduated with the Class of Jan ’43.
Lieutenant St. John’s first assignment was company commander in the 15th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized) in 1943 in the European Theater of Operations. By 1945, at the end of the war, he was the Intelligence Staff Officer working for General Clay at Headquarters, Berlin Command.
Adrian St. John returned to the U.S. where, in January 1951, he completed his master of arts degree in international relations at the University of Virginia. He was then assigned as a G-3 in Korea and was involved in operational matters and political military affairs affecting China and Southeast Asia.
Major St. John was severely injured during an explosion that killed several senior Chinese officials. Despite these injuries, he continued to report from his hospital bed in Formosa.
His next mission, which would form the boilerplate for many of his succeeding assignments, was China desk officer, Army General Staff, Washington, D.C., from 1951–53, where he was often sent to sensitive, restricted areas to assess or negotiate critical situations. The then Major St. John was sent to Formosa at the personal request of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Omar Bradley. He reported to the Kuomintang Chairman of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, General Chou Chihjou. On a secret visit, arranged by the Chinese, to the Nationalist guerrilla forces on the Chinese coastal islands, which was officially off-limits to U.S. personnel, Major St. John was severely injured during an explosion that killed several senior Chinese officials. Despite these injuries, he continued to report from his hospital bed in Formosa. His report contributed to a Joint Chiefs of Staff recommendation to the newly-elected Republican administration that U.S. Military and Advisory support be extended to Nationalist-occupied off shore islands, which ultimately became formal U.S. policy.
Lieutenant Colonel St. John graduated from the Command and General Staff College in 1954, asked for and was granted an Infantry detail, and went to Korea for one year as the battalion commander of the 3/31 Infantry, and later he commanded the 73d Tank Battalion. He returned to Kansas and the Command and General Staff College as a member of the faculty, where he taught in the Department of Infantry Operations, and was part of the group that revised the nuclear weapons doctrine. This included establishment of the Senior Officer’s Nuclear Weapons Employment course. The final portion of his CGSC tour was spent on a special mission to Iran as the faculty advisor at the Iranian Imperial War College. While in Iran, Lieutenant Colonel St. John gained the confidences of senior Iranian officers and, as a result, was invited to stay and visit Iranian defense forces in the border areas, normally restricted to U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group and Attaché personnel.
After graduating from the Army War College in 1960, Lieutenant Colonel St. John was assigned as the Southeast Asia Plans officer, G-3, Headquarters, U.S. Army Pacific, where he was primarily responsible for unilateral and multilateral command relationships while working on Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) Operations Plans.
Lieutenant Colonel St. John next held a two-year post at the Long Range Plans Branch, Plans Directorate, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He had a major role in the rewrite and restructuring of the Joint Long Range Strategic Study—one of the three core papers of the JCS planning system.
Major General St. John’s ability for effective communication again was directed toward special missions, this time on the home front.
From 1966–67, Colonel St. John served as the Chief of the Surface Plans and Operations Division in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, J-3, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. Colonel St. John had frequent contact with high-ranking officials of the Republic of Vietnam. Because of his unique knowledge and awareness of Joint Staff functioning he coordinated plans that ensured Republic of Vietnam/U.S. cohesiveness and a smooth counter-insurgence effort.
In 1967, Colonel St. John returned to Europe to command the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Two years later, upon his promotion to Brigadier General, he was named Assistant Division Commander of the 4th Armored Division.
In 1970–71, he was Chief, Strategic Plans and Policy Division, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Major General St. John’s ability for effective communication again was directed toward special missions, this time on the home front. Major General St. John’s responsibility was not only Vietnam but, more important, he made significant contributions to improving United States military strategy in a time of significant change in political guidance. In 1971, he was assigned as Chief, Plans Directorate, Office, Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations, on the Army Staff.
In 1972, Major General St. John became the Commanding General of the 1st Armored Division in Germany. He left there in 1974 and assumed responsibility as the Vice Director of the Joint Staff, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He retired from active Army duty after 34 years at the rank of Major General in 1977.
Major General St. John has been awarded the Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Presidential Distinguished Citizen Medal, and the Department of State Superior Honor Award.
Major General St. John continued to leverage his ability to work with people as a member of the Advisory Council on International Security Affairs on the Republican National Committee from 1977–80. He was a delegate to the Virginia State Republican Convention in 1980 and 1981. In 1981, he also received his second master’s degree from American University.
Recalled to government service in 1982, Adrian St. John served for ten years as the Joint Chiefs of Staff representative to the Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions Negotiations, the Conventional Stability Talks, and the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe talks. In his capacity as senior Department of Defense advisor and primary military expert to six ambassadors over a period of ten years, his outstanding efforts made possible the achievement of United States goals in these negotiations.
Commended by three presidents for his outstanding efforts on behalf of world peace, Major General St. John has been awarded the Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Presidential Distinguished Citizen Medal, and the Department of State Superior Honor Award.
In 1994, Major General St. John actively participated in the Conference on Middle East Arms Control and, in 1995, chaired a 17-nation Arab-Israeli working group meeting in Jordan which developed a potential protocol on military provisions for a possible Middle East peace treaty. Adrian St. John was always the right man, in the right place, at the right time.
Major General St. John’s most recent assignment was in 1997, 54 years after experiencing combat in Europe. He was appointed to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. His task was to travel to Broko, Bosnia, a war-ravaged town that had no reliable food, water or electrical supplies, to expedite the preparations for municipal elections in compliance with the Dayton Accords.
Among his military decorations, Major General St. John has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star Medal with device, the Joint Services Commendation Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster. His foreign decorations include the French Croix de Guerre with Silver Star and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm.
Throughout a long and distinguished career of military and public service, Adrian St. John was always the right man, in the right place, at the right time. His keen intelligence, exceptional devotion to duty, and his wide knowledge of world affairs and politics enabled him to play a pivotal role in advancing the concept of peace in Europe. MG St. John’s long involvement in European negotiations established him as an architect of European security and a major influence on the size, composition, and disposition of the United States Army.
Accordingly, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy hereby presents the 1998 Distinguished Graduate Award to Adrian St. John II, Class of January ’43.
General St. John, who served in three wars, had retired from active duty in 1977 when he was recalled to be the Joint Chiefs of Staff representative to armed forces reduction and stabilization talks in Europe in 1982. He worked in Vienna for 10 years as a senior Defense adviser and primary military expert to six ambassadors. Three presidents commended him for his efforts on behalf of world peace.
In 1994, he participated in the Conference on Middle East Arms Control, and in 1995 he was chairman of a 17-nation Arab-Israeli working group meeting in Jordan that developed a protocol on military provisions for a possible Middle East peace treaty.
General St. John's most recent assignment was in 1997, when he was appointed to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. His job was to expedite plans for municipal elections in Broko, Bosnia, a war-ravaged town that had no reliable food, water or electrical supplies.
He was "always the right man, in the right place, at the right time," John A. Hammack, chairman of the Association of Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy, said when Gen. St. John was awarded its Distinguished Graduate Award in 1998. "His keen intelligence, exceptional devotion to duty, and his wide knowledge of world affairs and politics enabled him to play a pivotal role in advancing the concept of peace in Europe."
Born on the Army post at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1939, just weeks before Germany invaded Poland, and graduated in January 1943. He landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, 10 days after D-Day, as company commander in the 15th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Mechanized.
He received a master's degree in international relations in 1951 from the University of Virginia and served on the Army's General Staff in Washington as China desk officer, where he was often sent to restricted areas to assess or negotiate critical situations.
At the request of General Omar Bradley, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then-Major St. John was sent to Taiwan to report to the chairman of the nationalist party of China, known as the Kuomintang. While on a secret mission to observe guerrilla forces on the Chinese coastal islands, which were off-limits to Americans, he was severely wounded in an explosion, and several senior Chinese officials were killed.
He continued to file reports, from his hospital bed.
His other postings included commanding an infantry battalion and a tank battalion in Korea during the war there. He taught at the Army Command and General Staff College and went on a special mission to Iran as the faculty adviser at the Iranian Imperial War College. After graduating from the Army War College in 1960, he held several planning and operations posts involving Southeast Asia and served in Vietnam as chief of the surface plans and operations division in the assistant chief of staff's office.
In 1967, then-Colonel St. John returned to Europe, and by 1972 he had become the commanding general of the 1st Armored Division in Germany. He retired as Vice Director of the U.S. joint staff in 1977 as a Major General.
General St. John was a member of the advisory council on international security affairs on the Republican National Committee from 1977 to 1980 and was a delegate to the Virginia Republican Convention in 1980 and 1981, the same year he received his second master's degree from American University.
Among his awards for his late-career work were the Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Presidential Citizen Medal and the Department of State Superior Honor Award.
His military decorations include two awards of the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, four awards of the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal.
His wife of 41 years, Prunella Durham St. John, died in 1982. A son from that marriage, Adrian St. John III, died in 2003.
Survivors include his wife, Dr. Florence Parrish St. John of Fort Belvoir; a son from his first marriage, Brian St. John of Puerto Rico; three stepsons, Joseph Tucker III of Dallas, F. Steven Tucker of Bel Air, Maryland, and James D. Tucker of Douglasville, Pennsylvania; 10 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY
DISTINGUISHED GRADUATE AWARD: 1998
MAJOR GENERAL “SAINT” was born of military (Leavenworth, 1921), served in military (armor, 1943-76), and retired to military (arms control negotiator, 1982-present). He married Penny Durham, his childhood sweetheart, on graduation day; they had two sons, Adrian III and Brian. Command: cavalry troop in WWII combat (1944-45); infantry and tank battalions, Korea (1954-55); 14th Cavalry Regiment, Fulda (1967-69); 1st Armored Division, Bavaria (1972-74).
Entered Berlin with Clay’s advance party (1945)
Wounded reconnoitering Chinese coastal island before US was “officially” there (1952)
Reconnoitered Iranian-Soviet border “unofficially” (1959)
Reconnoitered “frontline” in Borneo during Malasia-Indonesia war (1967)
SE Asia: much TDY in Vietnam as “military operations evaluator” (1960-64)
MACV Surface Operations Division Chief (1966-67)
JCS: Long Range Branch Chief (1964-66)
Strategic Policy Division Chief (1970-71)
Deputy Operations Deputy (1971-72)
Vice Director Joint Staff (1974-76)
JCS representative in arms control negotiations (1982-1992).
Education: U. of Virginia (MA) and American U. (MPA and completed PhD course work). Writings: “French Indochina: An American Dilemma” (1950) and “Soviet Russia and Communist China: Mutual Nemeses” (1960)—controversial in their time. Decorations: DSM w/OLC, SS, LM w/3OLC, BSM(V), JSCM, Army CR w/OLC, French Croix de Guerre, and RVN Gallantry Cross. The Saint has been listed in Who’s Who in America since 1970.