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Paul Atherton


July 15, 1921 - March 29, 2024



Born: 15 Jul 1921, Hanover, New Hampshire

Death: 29 March 2024, Bradenton, Florida

Paul Roy Atherton (Ret. U.S. ARMY COL.) passed peacefully at home with daughter, Nancy, Grandson John Roy Holder, and wife, Melissa surrounding him after a prolonged illness started by an ear infection (daughter, Sandra hospitalized in Sarasota). Tidewell Hospice provided everything desired to make him comfortable in the final stage of his journey home to Jesus and his wife in Heaven. Paul R. Atherton and his wife, Virginia R. Atherton will be interned at Sarasota National Veterans Cemetery. Paul was born in Hanover, New Hampshire, the home of Dartmouth University, on 15 July 1921 to Roy Edward Atherton, born 30 December 1896 in Jericho, Vermont (Veteran U.S. Army), and Antoinette Blanche Daigle, born 19 Jan 1900 in Lyndonville, Vermont. (WWII Cones Automatic Defense Plant). He was an only child residing with his parents in Windsor, Vermont where his father was employed as a machinist. In the early days of the depression caught in the mass lay-off he moved the family to northern Vermont. They lived comfortably in a well-provisioned home, spending time on his grandfather's farm in East Craftsbury, Vermont. During his elementary school years, summer vacations were spent at his grandfather's farm, where he learned about arduous work on a farm while earning a small remuneration for his efforts. At this time, he determined farming was not the direction he had chosen to pursue! Paul's elementary school years were spent at the Hazen Road School in Greensboro, Vermont, from about 1926-1928, and Sunny View School in East Craftsbury, Vermont, from 1929-1933. In 1933, he entered and graduated from the Craftsbury Academy. Paul frequently stated, "he was an average student," and laughed. He majored in a business course, and he found school constructive. The classes averaged from five to six pupils in elementary school, which meant sufficient individual instruction from excellent teachers. During his first two high school summer vacations, he worked at Brass Knocks Estate as Assistant Carpenter and Painter, and during the last two, he worked for Mr. Neil Harriman, owner of the town General Store and Post Office, as Clerk and Assistant Postmaster. After high school, he was undecided about what he wanted to do with his life, and though his parents were willing to further his education, he felt the need to decide just what he wanted to do. Paul went to Bellows Falls, Vermont, in September of 1939, working as a freight handler at night for Gays Express until June of 1940. Desiring day work, he went to the Bragg Lumber Company as an Assistant Carpenter in May. This job was terminated in May due to personnel cuts, and he joined the local National Guard Unit, the 172nd Infantry. From Bellows Falls, he went to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where his uncle worked for May Engineering Company. He was accepted to an NYA Trade School in Waterbury, Vermont, during this time. In 1941, the 172nd Infantry was activated. Paul met and married the "love of his life" while stationed at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin. Virginia Rose Greenwood was born in LaCross, Wisconsin, on 15 January 1925. They married in Sparta, Wisconsin, on 29 November 1943 and had two daughters, Sandra Lynn and Nancy Ann Atherton. On 24 February 1941, Paul was called to duty with Company 'F', 172nd Infantry (Bellows Falls, Vermont) 43rd Division. Paul received training at Camp Blanding, Florida, and Camp Shelby, Miss., participating in the Louisiana and Carolina Maneuvers. Paul shipped out to the South Pacific on the troopship of President Coolidge, which sank on 26 Oct. 1942 off the coast of the New Hebrides Islands. In May 1943, he returned to the United States to Camp Wheeler, Georgia, and in June 1943, he went to Officer Training School at Ft. Benning, Georgia. Upon graduation from Officer Candidate School (O.C.S.), he was assigned to Camp Croft, North Carolina, as a student officer. In October 1943, he transferred to the 385th Infantry at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, as Battalion S-2. He requested overseas duty and shipped out in December to the European Theater of Operations(E.T.O.). January 1944, he joined Company 'B', 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Division as Platoon Leader. In March 1945, Paul received a second wound and returned Stateside via Hospital channels. From March 1945 to February 1946, he remained in Lovell General Hospital at Fort Devens, Mass., until July 1946, on limited duty as Supply Officer WDPC at Ft. Devens, Mass. July 1946, he transferred to United States Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) in Greenhaven, N.Y. as Assistant Supervisor of Prisoners, later reporting to Halloran General Hospital, where he was returned to general duty, rejoining Company 'B' in Fort Hancock, New Jersey, where he remained until his overseas assignment arrived. While assigned to Fort Hancock, New Jersey, as Compound Commander of the Guard, Detachment Provost Marshall, and Assistant Supervisor of Prisoners, his primary duty was as Block Officer.

In September, Paul transferred to the 796th Military Police Battalion in Vienna, Austria as platoon leader. 1950, he was assigned as Commissary Sales Officer before returning to battalion duty and serving as Platoon Leader, Company Ex, and Company Commander. In July 1951, he was assigned as Assistant S-3. While with the 796th Military Police Battalion he was promoted to Captain on 11 July 1952. In September 1952, he reported to the 504th Military Police Battalion, assigned as Company Commander, Company 'C', Provisional Training Unit, Supervising Branch training. In 1953, the Provisional training units were phased out, and he was assigned a mission as Military Police Officer Advanced Course # 9 at Provost Marshall School, Camp Gordon, Georgia.

Education: Attended Craftsbury Academy, inducted into the School Honor Brick Wall, U.S. Army Command Management School, Command General Staff College, University of Virginia International Law, University of Vienna, Austria and American University Majoring in Criminology (120+ College Credits).

Religion: Roman Catholic, Presbyterian

Occupation: U.S. Army Officer, Real Estate Broker & Appraiser

Lodge: 32nd Mason

Hobbies: Golf, Reading & Investing in the Stock Market

Military Service: Ret. U.S. ARMY COL. Enlisted: Pvt. VT., NG, Bellows Falls, Vermont 27 March 1940, 172nd Infantry Discharged: 30 July 1973, Fort Rucker, Alabama Campaigns: World War II Pacific & European Theater of Operations, VietNam

Awards & Commendations: Combat Infantry Badge, (3) Legion of Merit, (2) Bronze Star, (3) Purple Hearts, Army Commendation Medal, Air Medal, Distinguished Unit Citations 3rd Infantry, 7th Infantry Ret. European Theater of Operations, Navy Distinguished Unit Citation, Viet Nam, French Fourregere 3rd Infantry, Viet Nam Staff Medal, (9) Campaign Stars, (1) Pacific Theater of Operations (P.A.C.), (4) European Theater of Operations (E.T.O.), (4) Viet Nam Badge, Battlefield Promotion on 01 April 1945 from 2nd Lt. to 1st Lt. Actual Combat, 7th Infantry 3rd Division, Jan 1945, Ostheim & Bennwihr, France.

Commendations: 1973 Certificate of Appreciation from President Nixon, 1966 Certificate of Appreciation from Vice President Humphrey, 1964 Certificate of Appreciation from Proval Marshall General, Letter of Commendation from Gen. W.C. Westmoreland – Viet Nam. Survived sinking of the Troop Ship U.S.S. President Coolidge – October 1942. Inducted into The Infantry Hall of Fame 08'

Paul is survived by his loving daughters, Sandra Lynn and Nancy Ann Atherton, along with grandchildren, John Roy Holder and his wife, Melissa, their children (Great-Grandchildren), Samantha, Brittanie, and Zachary, his son, Oliver (Great-Great-Grandson), Granddaughter, Antoinette Atherton Smith, her husband, David and their children (Great-Grandson), Alex Carter and (Great-Granddaughter), Amber Smith. A gathering of family and friends is scheduled for 11:00 AM, Saturday, May 4, 2024, at Covell Funeral Home in Bradenton, FL, with a memorial service following at noon.