John J. McCuen 1948

1948 Class Crest

Cullum No. 16583 • Jul 18, 2010 • Died in Birmingham, MI

Interred in West Point Cemetery, NY

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John Joachim ‘Jack’ McCuen was born in Washington, DC, Mar 30, 1926, the only son of Joseph R. and Josephine McCuen. His father was Majority Clerk and his mother was Minority Clerk of the House of Representatives. Jack graduated in 1944 from The Sidwell Friends School, a private preparatory school in Washington, DC. He immediately enlisted in the Navy V-12 Program, but his Navy service was short lived as he received a congressional appointment to West Point, entering in July 1944. As a cadet, Jack was active in club and intramural sports while also serving on the business staff of the Howitzer. His drive and enthusiasm soon gained him the nickname "Steamboat" by his classmates.

Jack graduated in 1948 as a member of the first post-World War II four-year class and selected Cavalry/Armor as his branch of service. After graduation leave, he reported for Basic Armor training at Fort Knox, KY. It was there in early 1949 that he met Gloria Joyce Seidel, who became his wife the following June. Upon completion of Armor training, Jack was assigned to Germany, accompanied by his wife, for a three-year tour. Here, Jack and Gloria had the opportunity to travel widely and learned to appreciate diverse foreign cultures. This European assignment was followed by alternating assignments in the United States and overseas as Jack rose in rank. All of the assignments were exciting—United States Advisor to the Royal Thai Army, United States Representative to the Users’ Committee building the NATO missile firing installation on Crete, Advisor to
the Vietnamese National Defense College, Chief of the United States Defense Liaison Group Indonesia, and Chief, Field
Survey Office, Army Training and Doctrine Command.

In addition to the usual schedule of military schools, the Army assigned Jack to the Columbia University School of International Affairs where he was awarded a Master of International Affairs Degree. While a student there, and with faculty encouragement, Jack began writing his book The Art of Counter-Revolutionary War: The Strategy of Counter-Insurgency, which was published in 1966. This book is listed in FM 3-24, the Army-Marine Corps Counter-Insurgency Field Manual, as one of the "classics" in counter-insurgency theory and practice. The book was subsequently published in Great Britain, and there is a Spanish edition in Argentina. For five years Jack’s book was on the Army’s required reading list for officers and was instrumental in his appointment as Director of Internal Defense and Development Studies at the Army War College. Jack soon became recognized as an authority on this new type of warfare and made a number of public appearances. He also became Chairman of the first Current Affairs Panel at the War College and, under presidential direction, made many presentations at colleges and universities discussing the Vietnam War before faculty and student audiences.

Jack retired from the Army as a colonel in 1976 and was a consultant on nuclear security to the United States Energy Research and Development Administration for a year. In 1977 he was recruited by the Chrysler Corporation in Detroit to be the Manager of Technical Training, Abrams M-1 Tank Program. Subsequently, he joined the General Dynamics Corporation to manage a team of one hundred men and women providing technical support to Army units operating with the Abrams M-l Tank during Operation Desert Storm.

Jack left General Dynamics in 1994 and channeled his energies to non-military activities in Michigan. He became Chief Executive Officer of the venture capital company Michigan Economic Development Corporation, President of Grander View Senior Housing Nursing Facility, President of the Troy, MI, Community Concert Association, and President of the Michigan Oriental Art Society. After the terrorist attacks of Sep 11, 2001, Jack helped the Army War College re-establish its courses on terrorism. He also wrote weekly columns for the Army Times newspaper bringing his considerable background in counter-insurgency to make the argument for institutionalizing "counter-insurgency operations, stability operations, and irregular warfare" within the Defense establishment and other government agencies.

During their extensive travels, both Jack and Gloria had become fascinated with Oriental art and antiques. Like many antique enthusiasts who love to collect, they found that their home could contain no more and they progressed from being collectors to collector/dealers. Jack was also active and involved with the Church of Christ, starting as a First Reader for the first Church established at West Point his plebe year and was First Reader at each Church located at Army bases where he was assigned.

Jack died Jul 18, 2010, in Birmingham, MI, and was buried in the West Point Cemetery with others of the Long Gray Line. He is survived by his wife Gloria, sons Jack Jr. and Les, and five grandchildren—Matthew, Haley, Christopher, Vitale, and Victoria. Lastly, there are his four dogs—Tanker, Tillie, Nikita, and Ruby.

—Les S. McCuen, Son

  • COL John K. Brier, USA, Retired
  • COL Irving B. Schoenberg, USAF, Retired
  • Ms. Eileen S. Sunder
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