Chapter History

 


Chartering and Geographical Area of Responsibility

Chapter 1 (Sigholtz Capital Chapter), of the then 173d Airborne Brigade Society, was formed as a result of an initiative to establish local Chapters of the National 173d Airborne Brigade Society. In late 1983, Chapter 1 (Sigholtz Capital Chapter) became the first Chapter chartered by National Headquarters of the 173d Airborne Brigade Society and CPT (R) George Farris became the Chapter’s first President.

A list of past Chapter Presidents can be found as a separate entry on the Chapter website. The Chapter’s designated area includes The District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia. It also has members located throughout the United States. This dispersion poses challenges when informing and encouraging members to participate in Chapter events.


The Chapter’s Name and Membership

Chapter 1 is named after CPT Robert Sigholtz, Jr., who was mortally wounded while serving with D Company, Second Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, in 1969. Captain Sigholtz was the son of COL (R) Robert Sigholtz, famed 2/503d Commander. Chapter 1 was the first Chapter formally chartered by the 173d Airborne Brigade Association. The established Chapters represent Sky Soldiers throughout the United States and our comrades-in-arms in Australia and New Zealand. Since its inception Chapter 1 (Sigholtz Capital Chapter) has set the standard for other Chapters to emulate. Chapter 1 is one of the largest, most active chapters within the Association.


The Chapter Newsletter

One of the earliest Chapter accomplishments was the publishing of a quarterly newsletter. The newsletter, The Herd Word, was designed to encourage communications and esprit among Chapter members. It provides current information on Chapter activities and events and related national activities. It was and remains popular and each publication is eagerly anticipated by Chapter members.


The 20th Anniversary of the Brigade’s Deployment to Vietnam Celebration

In 1985, under the chairmanship of Colonel (R) Robert Sigholtz and sixteen dedicated Chapter 1 members, the Chapter planned, organized, and hosted the first 173d Airborne Brigade annual reunion ever conducted away from Fort Bragg.

The event celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Brigade’s deployment to Vietnam. The formal dinner was highlighted by a personal message from President Ronald W. Reagan and an inspiring address by General William C. Westmoreland. Among the other highlights of the dinner and reunion included a spectacular performance by the 82nd Airborne Division Chorus and a Pentagon tour during which Association members were greeted by Secretary of the Army, John O. Marsh, a former paratrooper. The event ended on a solemn note at a Memorial Service held in the Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery in memory of Sky Soldiers killed in the Republic of Vietnam. The service was held 20 years to the day that the Brigade deployed to Vietnam


Veterans Day and Memorial Day Celebrations

Since its establishment, each Veterans Day, the Chapter conducts a wreath laying ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. All Brigade members, their family and friends, are invited to this event.

In recent years, on the day before Veteran’s Day, LTC (R) Roy Lombardo, a former Commander of B Company, 1/503rd Airborne Brigade, conducts a tribute to fallen Sky Soldiers at the Brigade memorial marker in Arlington National Cemetery. The 82nd Airborne Color Guard joins the Bravo Bulls and other Herd veterans in paying homage to all airborne heroes resting in Arlington’s hallowed grounds.


The 1990 173d Airborne Brigade Association Annual National Reunion

In 1990, the Chapter again hosted the annual National Reunion. The reunion took place at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C., and over 600 Sky Soldiers attended. Major General Ellis “Butch” Williamson, the Brigade’s first commander and a Chapter 1 member led the event. The reunion was conducted in concert with the 50th Airborne Anniversary celebration. Consequently, thousands of paratroopers from all over the United States came to Washington. Secretary of the Army Patrick W. Stone authorized the reactivation of the 173d Airborne Brigade for 24 hours, an act that allowed the Brigade to uncase its colors and proudly march as an “active unit” in the parade of airborne units down Constitution Avenue. This was the culminating event of the Airborne Anniversary.


Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration of Junction City

On 22 February, 1997 the Chapter hosted a dinner to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 2/503′s combat jump in Vietnam (Operation Junction City). This Fort Belvoir Officers’ Club event was supported by the U.S. Army Color guard. General John “Uncle Jack” Deane, the Brigade Commander who led the jump, and COL Robert Sigholtz, the 2/503rd commander, were honored guests. This was a superb event attended by a great number of proud Sky Soldiers including a total of eighty-seven troopers who actually participated in this historic parachute assault.


Remembering Dak To

In November 1997 the Chapter hosted a memorial luncheon on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Dak To. Nearly two hundred Sky Soldiers and their families attended, including 110 of the Sky Soldiers who participated in that battle. The event served as a solemn remembrance for all that gave the supreme sacrifice during that epic battle. Bob Kimmitt, the former Ambassador to Germany and a former battery commander in the 3/319th Artillery, and The Most Reverend Edwin O’Brien, Coadjutor Archbishop, Archdiocese for the Military Services and a former Sky Soldier, presided. Former Sky Soldiers General Johnnie Wilson, Commander, Army Material Command, and his Deputy LTG James Link, also attended. General Wilson served as the keynote speaker. The event was supported by the U.S. Army Color Guard, the Army Band, and the Army Chorus.


The Brigade Marker in Arlington National Cemetery

In early 1998, the Chapter volunteered, on behalf of the National Association, to establish a living memorial in Arlington National Cemetery to honor fallen Sky Soldiers. The memorial consists of an inscribed stone with a memorial tree planted behind. The Brigade insignia and the insignia of the Australian and New Zealand Armies, the Brigade’s brethren in Vietnam, were inscribed on the memorial marker. On 2 May, 1998 this memorial was dedicated by the then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Hugh Shelton, a former Sky Soldier andmemberofChapter 1. Brigade’s first Commander, MG Ellis Williamson also attended. The Australian and New Zealand Military Attaches were honored attendees. Nearly 100 Sky Soldiers, their families, and friends attended the dedication on that rainy Saturday morning. The Army Color Guard and the Army Band Bugler supported the event.

In May 2007, the Chapter rededicated the marker as it was replaced with another. The new marker has a revised inscription that not only honors Brigade Vietnam fallen from the Vietnam-Era but also those Killed in Action during the Global War On Terrorism deployments and others who make the ultimate sacrifice in future battles in which the Brigade may engage. Over 50 Sky Soldiers, their families, and friends attended the new marker dedication.

                                                                                                                                                         

Recognizing Medal of Honor Awardee Alfred Rascon

On 8 February, 2000, the Sigholtz-Capital President was honored to represent Chapter 1 as one of its members, COL (R) Alfred Rascon, was awarded the Medal of Honor (MOH) by President William Clinton in the White House. Al was awarded the MOH for extraordinary courage while serving as a Specialist Four Medic in action in Vietnam on 16 March, 1966. Later that evening the Secretary of the Army hosted a reception at the Fort Myer Officers’ Club to which all Chapter members were invited. The Chapter is honored to have a MOH recipient on its rolls.


Annual Brigade Marker Ceremony

In May of 1999, the Chapter initiated a ceremony at the Brigade Marker, in Arlington National Cemetery, that honors our fallen Sky Soldiers from all eras. This ceremony is conducted annually on the Saturday closest to the fifth of May, the date the 173d Airborne Brigade deployed to Vietnam. The name of every Sky Soldier lost in battle is honored as his rank, name, and date of sacrifice is read aloud by fellow Sky Soldiers. All Sky Soldiers are encouraged to participate in honoring these fallen heroes.


Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

In 2002, the Chapter arranged another event that honored our fallen Sky Soldiers and symbolically honored all that have fallen over the many years of conflict defending the right to freedom. With the assistance of Mr. Jack Metzler, the Superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery (and an honorary Chapter 1 member), Chapter 1 organized the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The ceremony also included the presentation of a Brigade plaque to Mr. Metzler for display along with all other unit plaques in the guard building adjacent to the Tomb.


Honoring Fallen Sky Soldiers

Throughout the years the Chapter assumed the solemn task of representing the Brigade at the interment of Sky Soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery and other locations within the Chapter’s geographical area of responsibility.

Upon notification, Chapter members dutifully attend the final rites of Sky Soldiers who have served with the Brigade in Vietnam, Vicenza, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The Chapter ensures that all Sky Soldiers are honored by Brigade representation as they enter into the final rest they so richly deserve. Over the years, the Chapter ensured the Brigade colors render a final salute to all Sky Soldiers. Chapter 1 is honored to be trusted with this solemn responsibility.


Supporting Wounded Warriors

Since the GWOT the Chapter began supporting wounded Sky Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Gene Weeks spearheaded this effort, in which the Chapter ensures that wounded Sky Soldiers’ needs were addressed as they recovered from their wounds. John Smith, Jr. took over Wounded Warrior Support andensured that the high standard for this program was maintained for recovering Sky Soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Gold Star Family Support

On 21 February 2009, the Chapter hosted a formal luncheon for local Gold Star Mothers and their families. Chapter member LTC (R) Michael Montie initiated the program and worked closely with Debora Yashinski, of the Gold Star Mothers. Over 30 Gold Star family members attended the event honoring their loved ones lost in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Many of family members commented how the luncheon provided a wonderful opportunity for closure and assurance that their loved one’s sacrifice would never be forgotten.


The 173d Airborne Brigade Memorial

From the late 1980s through 2009 Chapter 1 members played a key leadership role in establishing a permanent 173d Airborne Brigade Memorial on American soil to ensure that the Brigade’s contribution to the cause of freedom would always be remembered. This was a significant undertaking in that the Brigade has never had a permanent home on US soil.

The project was approved in 1987 by National President, BG (R) Jack Nicholson, and MG (R) Ellis “Butch” Williamson. Chapter 1 member COL (R) Ken Smith took the lead in this challenging project. He and Chapter 1 colleague, Walt Daniels, developed an initial design and began raising funds. The effort progressed slowly and in 2004 Chapter I President, Terry Modglin, submitted a new resolution which succeeded in getting the 173d Brigade Association Board of Directors and the general membership renew support for the effort. The 173d Airborne Brigade Memorial Foundation was formed to design, plan, raise funds, and construct the memorial.

Terry Modglin became the first President of the Foundation. The 173d Airborne Brigade Memorial was dedicated on June 1, 2010, at Patriot Park near the site of the National Infantry Museum, Fort Benning, Georgia. Chapter I continues to be in the forefront of important Brigade projects.


Chapter Honors Roberta ‘Cis’ Sigholtz

In early March 2013, a delegation of Chapter officers and members met at the McLean, Virginia, Sunrise Senior Living Community. Their purpose was to honor our own Cis Sigholtz as the Founding Mother of Chapter 1 (Sigholtz Capital Chapter).

Cis was married to the late COL Robert Sigholtz, the 2/503 battalion commander during the Brigade’s combat jump in Vietnam and who was also was the Chapter 1 founder. Cis is the Gold Star mother of her beloved son and Chapter 1 namesake CPT Robert Sigholtz, Jr., who was killed in action on 26 May, 1969.

Cis has remained a staunch and devoted supporter of Chapter 1 throughout its existence, including donating Washington Redskins seaso tickets to Airborne Combat Team Wounded Warriors recuperating in the Washington area. Chapter President Michael Montie presented Cis with the Founding Mother plaque and letters written to her by Sky Soldiers from across the country. In recognition of her outstanding support, Chapter 1 Wounded Warrior Support Leader John Smith also presented her a unique engraving prepared by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

                                                                                                                                                                

Serving Sky Soldiers: Past, Present and Future

Chapter I, the first Chapter chartered in the 173d Airborne Brigade Association, located in the National Capital area, sees itself as the champion and guardian of the 173d Airborne Brigade’s honor and esteem. Chapter 1 (Sigholtz Capital Chapter) of the 173d will continually drive on in the spirit of the airborne in fulfilling its mission to serve Sky Soldiers past, present, and future.