Col. (Ret.) Ralph Newman, ’62, began his military career with the Kentucky National Guard in 1956. Later, as an Eastern ROTC cadet, he heard President John Kennedy’s inaugural appeal, “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” Already, recalls John B. Hanlon, ’64, “each of us was lifted in our roles by Ralph’s inspirational leadership.”
Serving his country took Newman to two tours of duty in Vietnam, with decorations including three Legion of Merit awards, four Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart. When his ROTC roommate, Capt. Paul Van Hoose, ’63, died in battle in Vietnam, Newman was the uniformed escort bringing Van Hoose’s remains home and attending the grieving family.
Rising to chief of staff of the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command, he saw the Army’s successful integration of command, operations and planning of active duty and reserve components. As director of training for the U.S. First Army, he was responsible to 150,000 soldiers in 14 states. In the tense aftermath of the 1978 Camp David Accords, Newman commanded a 750-man parachute infantry battalion in the Sinai desert, later deploying units to Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm before retiring from active service in 1992.
Back home in Carter County, Ky., Newman built up two junior ROTC units which earned the designation of “honor units with distinction.” It was his cadets who gave military honors at the funeral of Newman’s ROTC “brother,” Jack Hibbard, ’64, ’98.
Grateful to Eastern for the academic and military preparation for a long and distinguished career which “made me competitive for promotion,” Col. (Ret.) Ralph Newman’s distinguished career is a lifelong response to one clear call: “Ask what you can do for your country.”