Milford F. Stablein
All soldiers know where lead the paths of glory, and knowing, march the prouder. Milford Franklin Stablein. Class of 1940, took his first step along that worn and trodden path In July 1936, when he entered the United States Military Academy as a Congressional appointee. He found the path's end at Arraincourt, France, on November 13, 1944 while marching down a shell-ravaged road at the head of the 9th Armored Infantry
Battalion, 6th Armored Division. Already holding the Legion of Merit for outstanding service and the Silver Star for gallantry in action, he stepped into the Long Gray Line from the duty he loved as a soldier, filled as a natural leader and performed with flawlesB execution—he was a battalion commander at the head of his troops going into battle.
To Milford Stablein, first professional soldier in his family, temporary major in the Army of the United States and forty-third man in the Class of 1940, there could have been nothing unusual about his being there at Arraincourt along that dirt trail, on time for his particular rendezvous with destiny. With him the job was the thing; all else was secondary. If the job demanded time and thought he gave it enough time and thought so that the job was done well, expeditiously. and with superior results. It mattered not whether his senior officers or instructions demanded little or nothing from its executor; when Milford Stablein decided to do the job required, he surveyed it from all angles, in all its permutations and probabilities, and after his logical and thorough-going analysis — done with the rapidity of thinking which was always his strongpoint—pointed to a solution, he took deft and skillful action.
Possessed of self-confidence, and a strong conviction of the adequacy of his background and training, Milford Stablein was a perfectionist. While his troops were diving into the ditch for cover Mil Stablein marched unperturbed along the shell-swept road, not through any sense of vaior, but because it occurred to him that if he went into the ditch he'd be wasting valuable time. Indeed, such was his cold detachment when faced with a mission that he could not have been thinking about himself at all, but rather, he thought only of how best to deploy his troops so as to minimize his casualties and to maintain his forward impetus.
The circumstances under which he took command of his troops were such that he must have reveled in the problem presented to him. He was Assistant G-3 of the 6th Armored Division when unexpected casualties devolved a command upon him that he knew only as a higher unit staff officer. The capabilities of his junior officers, the personalities of his men. these were unknown quantities at a time when the going was already hard and difficult and fraught with unknowns and imponderables.
He jumped into his last duty with the same zest that he showed charging through Academy High School in Erie, Pennsylvania as the eldest child of Frank and Minnie Stablein, where he was second in his class and won the annual Mathematics award when he was graduated in 1933. His early life prepared him well for his soldier's task and the qualities that endeared him to I Co. at the Military Academy manifested themselves even before his high school days, when he was romping the byways of Erie, learning enough about swimming in the local swimming holes to qualify later as a swimming instructor and life guard at Westminster College, New Wilmington, Pa., and building a solid academic foundation that was to help him pull many a goat from the brink of disaster at West
Point. At Westminster College, he planned to take four years work in three—"Four years would have been a waste of time”—but after two and a half years he received his Congressional appointment to the Military Academy, so he tucked his slipstilck and his swimming trunks in an old suitcase and took the
train up the Hudson. I Co. remembers him for his ever-readiness for a dragging, and for the fact that his habitual spoony appearance kept him well ahead of the T.D. In spite of the fact that he was high in academics, he found time to help the less fortunate, and he made his mark in sports, giving a good account of
himself at water polo, squash, tennis, skeet and swimming.
A blind date after the Army-Navy game in his yearling year culminated in marriage following his graduation on June 11, 1940, when Mil, then a Second Lieutenant of Cavalry, married Betty Gummick of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and after a short school tour at Fort Riley, moved his bride to a tiny South Gate apartment at Fort Myer, Virginia. Here, wrestling with recruits and remounts, Mil rapidly developed into a first class officer, and showed the marked ability that put him in a responsible staff position in a tank regiment of the 6th Armored Division a little over a year later, when he was designated S-3 air of the 68th Armored Regiment at Camp Chaffee. Here he did a masterful job, and concerned himself day and night with the problems of troop training and the development of a potent fighting force from the miscellaneous flocks of drafted recruits funneled into the armored units. By the time his division moved to the desert for training in October 1942 he was a Captain and regimental S-3, doing a major’s job with the drive, solid thinking, and innate tactical sense that characterized his performance of duty from the day he took his oath as a cadet.
In a regiment weakened by constant cadres and the unintentioned errors of inexperienced personnel, his sound judgment, tact, and ability outlined the aura of his character and nersonality placing his regiment second to none in the operational phases of the division training, and emphasizing his professional excellence.
Capable of inspiring an intense loyalty among subordinates, he was demanding, yet not without the common touch, and many a dusty tanker, sweating through the grime and grit of a hard day of training or battle was better for a casual word or comment delivered with the dry sense of humor that was one of his attributes. His son, George Frederic Stablein, was born at Indio, California a little more than a year prior to Mil’s departure for overseas, so he knew the solid joys of family life before he stepped off to war. When the 6th Armored Division landed in England in January 1944, Mil was S-3 of the Reserve Command, but by the time the Division reached its first engagement he was assistant G-3 of the Division, and had been a Major since February 1943.
In action, he performed with distinction and showed an admirable calm in heavy going, an attitude that marked him as a superb combat leader. His designation as Commanding Officer of the 9th Armored Infantry Battalion met with the approval of the troops concerned as well as his senior officers. He stepped into the difficult task of combat leadership with the same confidence, aplomb, and natural ability that characterized his efforts in sports and in the classroom.
Milford Stablein was a credit to his background, his training, and the United States Military Academy.
More than that, he met his destiny like a soldier.
Birth: Jan. 31, 1916
Death: Nov. 13, 1944, France
MAJ, 9 ARMD INF BN, 6 ARMD DIV WORLD WAR II
Milford Franklin Stablein was born to Minnie L. (née Hodge) and Frank George Stablein, in Erie,? Pennsylvania. Frank was the owner of Wholesale Meat & Jobbing, at 1512 Parade Street, in Erie. Milford graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York (cadet number 11833), with the class of 1940. He was then posted at Fort Myer, Virginia. By early 1943 he was stationed at Fort Young, the Desert Training Center in the Mojave Desert.
In November 1944 Stablein was assigned to the 6th Armored Division Headquarters as G-3 (in charge of division operations). On the insistence of Colonel John Leonard Hines, Jr. (USMA 1927), commanding officer of Combat Command A (CCA), to Major General Robert Walker Grow, Stablein replaced Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Godfrey as battalion commander of Combat Team 9 (9th Armored Infantry Battalion), on 12 November 1944. He was killed the next day. (He was succeeded by Lieutenant Colonel Frank K. Britton the following day.)
Stablein was leading CCA, with the 317th Infantry Regiment (of the 80th Infantry Division) supporting him, in an attack on the north bank of the river Rotte against the town Arraincourt. The lead vehicle of CCA had to stop because a culvert had been hit and blocked the road. Milford went to the head of the column to see what the delay was. Has he was moving between the road junction and the culvert a shell came in and he was hit with shrapnel and knocked into the ditch. Colonel Hines pulled him out the ditch and first put him on the deck of a tank, then moved him to a medical jeep, but as they got into the jeep Stablein succumb and died in Hines arms.
Milford was survived by his wife, Betty (1923-1994; of Elizabeth, New Jersey), daughter of Mildred and Frederic Gummick.
He was re-interred at the United States Military Academy Post Cemetery, West Point, New York in April of 1948.
Milton F. Stablein
Major, U.S. Army
9th Infantry Battalion, 6th Armored Division
Entered the Service from:
Buried at: United States Military Academy Post Cemetery
Westpoint, Orange County, New York
Plot: SECTION VII SITE 45
Awards: Purple Heart, Silver Star