Today's Features

  • One day in February 1961, while serving on the staff of the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, I received an urgent summons from Maj. Gen. Phil Berkeley, the Division Commander. I wondered what I had done wrong this time!

    It turned out that the general’s growing dissatisfaction with his chief of staff’s performance had dramatically overcome his tolerance. He had abruptly ordered him to clear out his desk and get out.

    Suddenly the Chief of Staff

  • AUTHOR’S NOTE: In the Friday, Nov. 6, issue I republished the first of my two-part series about Maj. General J. Franklin Bell that appeared in The Sentinel-News in 2008. Winner of the Medal of Honor in the “Philippine Insurrection,” he was Shelby County’s greatest hero and highest ranked military officer. It seems timely on Veterans Day to republish the second part.

  • AUTHOR’S NOTE: As Veterans Day approaches it seems timely to publish again my story of Shelby County’s greatest hero and highest ranked military officer, Medal of Honor winner, Major General J. Franklin Bell. This column, the first of a two-part series, appeared in the Sentinel-News on August 6, 2008.

    I embarked aboard the naval transport, “USS J. Franklin Bell,” on 10 December 1942 for participation in amphibious training exercises off the coast of California in preparation for combat in the Pacific.

  • It had been a privilege to serve for two years, 1955-57, in Japan, under the command of a distinguished and capable four-star general, Lyman L. Lemnitzer. As his Headquarters Commandant, I had under my command the all-services Honor Guard, which was turned out to welcome senior officers, American and foreign, who visited my “boss.”

  • In the summer of 1952, having been promoted to Colonel during two years of sea duty, I was ordered to take command of the Marine Barracks of the Naval Training Center, Great Lakes. Illinois.  There Susanne and I were assigned spacious government quarters in one of the beautiful old homes on “Brick Row.” 

    Shortly after the birth of our second son, Charles Antoine, in March 1954,I was ordered on an unaccompanied tour (without family) with the Third Marine Division in Gifu, Japan.

  • In late 1948, Susanne and I announced our engagement. Susanne’s mother, the Marquise de Charette, issued a very proper engraved invitations for a wedding on January 7, 1949.

    However, during a Christmas visit with my parents in San Diego, I had developed reservations about a marriage, in which I would suddenly assume the responsibilities not only of husband, but of father, as well. Upon my arrival back in New York, I asked Susanne for more time to consider. Later, she recalled her reaction: “It made me practically ill. Van got cold feet!”

  • After Susanne’s divorce from Chunky Marshall, her mother, the Marquise de Charette, and her great aunt, Lulie Henning, who lived in a large apartment at 400 Park Avenue, accompanied her to Miami Beach for the birth of Michele (Mimi) Solange Marshall on July 23, 1946.

    They then returned with mother and daughter, and Susanne rented an apartment in nearby Mt. Vernon, New York.

    Henri Bendel’s on Fifth Avenue

  • On June 29, 1933, Sue Henning, while visiting a friend in Washington, D. C., suffered an apoplectic stroke, from which she did not regain consciousness. For her daughter Susanne, still in Capri, and her granddaughter Susanne, then 18, still in school in Switzerland, it was a race against time. They arrived at her bedside before she died on July 12, 1933.

  • 30 Ans de Diners en Ville

    An incisive appraisal of Susanne, Marquise de Charette appears in a chapter of Gabriel-Louis Pringué’s, 30 Ans de Diners en Ville [Paris] (30 Years of Dining in the City).

    Pringué, an uncle of a Paris schoolmate of the Marquise’s daughter, Susanne, asked me many years ago if I had ever been to “Maxim’s.” Upon receiving a negative answer, he responded immediately “Quelle Vierge!”

    In 30 Ans, Pringué described the Marquise:

  • In July 1924, having spent over three years in Kentucky, Susanne, now nine, returned to Paris with her mother, the Marquise de Charette. Her schooling, which had begun at Nazareth Academy, near Bardstown, Kentucky, would continue in France and in Switzerland.

    Cours Dupanloup in Paris