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Ronald E. Rounds

Ronald E. Rounds

No. 6335278 Apr 1930 – 30 Dec 1951

Died: Died in an airplane crash near Phoenix, AZ 
Buried: Interred in Inglewood Park Cemetery, Los Angeles County, CA

On 30 Dec 1951, RONALD EDWARD ROUNDS died as a cadet in a tragic air crash of an Air Force C-47. Nineteen other cadets and several crew members also perished.

Ronnie was born in Inglewood, CA, to Ronald F. and Alice (Frame) Rounds. It was a close-knit family; Ron was especially close to his sister Joanne. Before he entered high school, Rounds was president of the student body and editor of the school yearbook. He also was active in clubs, played centerfield in baseball and showed an interest in speech and dramatics. His father was a manager for Southern California Edison, and the family moved several times. Rounds’ first high school was in Porterville, CA, where he learned to fish, grow potatoes for pin money, and play football. The family then moved to Delano, CA, where he attended and graduated from Delano High School.

Ron Rounds was an active member of his high school. He was an excellent student and played football and track. He was business manager of the school yearbook and, during his senior year, was president of the Masque and Gavel Club, a dramatics club. He also starred in the junior play, “Our Town.” During his formative years, he declared his ambition: “To put my footprints in the sands of time.” His friends said he was articulate, and he had impeccable posture that made him imposing and possibly heralded his attendance at the Point.

Following graduation from high school, Ron ran in the West Coast Relays, attended Bakersfield College for electrical engineering, and joined the California National Guard. It seems that it may have been more apparent that war clouds were gathering in Southeast Asia and the Korean peninsula to those living on the West Coast. As it turned out, however, Ron missed the call-up for the Korean War by 32 miles. The 40th division was called up, but Ron’s division, the 49th, was not. Through a National Guard competitive appointment, Ron entered West Point.

Ron Rounds began his life at West Point on 5 Jul 1950. He made it through Beast Barracks and was assigned by height to Company I-1, in the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment. I-1 was the flanker company of the regiment’s runt battalion. There was a good measure of esprit de corps in this company, which was housed in South Area.

During his year and a half at West Point, CDT Rounds’ life was routine. He was an excellent student and a budding “hive.” He often provided academic assistance to his less fortunate classmates, even upperclassmen. A classmate reported, “I do not say it lightly—Ronnie was a mathematical genius.” In an engineering course taught by COL “Archie” Higdon, who had also co-authored the course text, Ron revealed his potential. The assignment for the day involved memorizing a formula because its proof was beyond the scope of the text. CDT Rounds was so busy helping upperclassmen the night before, he did not look at the text, let alone memorize the key formula. Upon the command “Take Boards,” the rest of the section quickly wrote the formula on their board—all except CDT Rounds, who did not know it. When the rest of the section sat down, Rounds was trying to derive the formula on the blackboard. COL Higdon gave the class a “sshhh” sign and everybody watched the effort for what seemed like an eternity. Minutes before the bell rang, Ronnie put his eraser down and wrote the formula. COL Higdon put his arm on Ronnie’s shoulder and said, “Mr. Rounds, that is the finest example of academic genius that I have had the pleasure of witnessing. You accomplished in 40 minutes what it took Higdon and Styles days to derive and then two full written pages to present. Now, we shall have to rewrite our book!”

Ron also helped in the Class of 1951 100th Nite Show and played intramural track and football. He joined the Radio Club so he could communicate with his sister Joanne, who was attending the University of California at Berkley. He also joined the Mormon (Latter Day Saints) church group at West Point. ( This proved to be a great comfort to his father after CDT Rounds’ unfortunate death.)

One cadet, who was an underclassman when Ron was a yearling, said that “it seems to me that he was universally liked by all, plebes as well as others …. He was so vivacious, more so than many others. He had a winning smile and laughter that were frequently apparent. I also noted that among the upperclassmen he seemed … to have a sense of justice about how plebes should be treated.”

In letters to his sister that final semester, Ron described his life at West Point as one of great value; he was happy. He felt the Point’s value system was right, and the experiences and instruction were helpful. He commented on placing often in the 440-yard run (now sprint) in intramural track. He showed remarkable understanding of football in the fall of 1951. He analyzed key plays to his sister and her husband-to-be, who was a football player at Berkley and later for the Philadelphia Eagles. All the potential recorded above came to an end on that fateful day in December 1951, when Ron and many other West Pointers died in an airplane crash, returning from Christmas leave. Ronald Rounds is not forgotten, not by his companymates, high school classmates, or the community of Delano, CA. Recently, he was remembered in the Delano Record, his hometown newspaper. He was remembered at the 56th reunion of his high school class.There is a street named for him in Delano, and a memorial fountain stands in the quadrangle of his high school. He did achieve his ambition, “To put his footprints in the sands of time.”


Melvyn Remus, classmate

Originally published in JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2007 TAPS

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