Douglass Stengrim Detlie was born in Pierre, SD, to COL Harry Clifford Detlie and Marjorie Douglass Detlie. Doug’s father served 30 years on active duty as a U.S. Army Engineer officer, moving the family to various locations in the mid-west, as assigned, plus one tour in the Philippines. Doug graduated from Tomah High School in Tomah, WI, in 1953 and attended Purdue University for one year before entering West Point in July 1954.
Doug’s time at the Academy was marked by his notoriety as a skilled member of the Debate Council and Forum, the Hunting and Fishing Club and the Cadet Golf Team and unexcelled excellence on the badminton court. His year at Purdue University prepared him academically and allowed him time to become one of the best debaters in academy history. His only serious bout with the Academic Department was his struggle to master two years of French language training. Doug was a survivor, however, and graduated in the upper 453rd of his class. His time as a Cadet was well captured in the 1958 Howitzer:
And so I hope you will concur with us—” A glib tongue and a pleasing personality won Doug scores of debates and (both) will carry him far in life. The man from South Dakota never forgot the fields and marshes where he hunted. Every duck-hunting season brought that faraway look in his eyes and the desire for a day or two away from here to shoot his limit.
Doug’s extra-curricular time was not spent entirely in debates, or in the woods around West Point. He loved the occasional Saturday night “Hop” and via that venue met the young lady whom he later would marry. Enter Marjory (Trinka) Brown, who grew up in nearby Haworth, NJ. “Trinka and young Douglass quickly fell in love. Their three-year courtship ended in a beautiful and memorable marriage on 14 Jun 1958, shortly after respective college graduations. Following a Canadian fishing trip honeymoon, 2LT and Mrs. Detlie were en route to Ft. Benning, GA.
Over the next six years, Doug and Trinka had three children: Douglass Allen Detlie, Cindy Ann Detlie Calhoun, and Wendy Ann Detlie Nieder. There are now four grandchildren.
During Doug’s 21 years on active duty, the Detlie family would make twelve moves. After the Infantry Officer Basic Course in December 1958, Doug joined the 1st Airborne Battle Group of the 187th Infantry at Ft. Bragg, served as platoon leader and later as company executive officer and S-4. He distinguished himself very early as an accomplished and innovative Infantry officer. As a 1LT he became a company commander in the 1st Cavalry Division in Korea. This was prior to attending the Infantry Officer Advanced Course in 1962–63, followed by three years as assistant Professor of Military Science at the Pennsylvania Military College in Chester, PA.
Like many of his classmates, Doug was called to serve in Viet Nam. Unlike most, he would serve three hardship tours there. First he was an advisor to the South Vietnamese during 1966–67. He returned to the 82nd Airborne, only to be quickly redeployed to Viet Nam as brigade S-3, G-3 operations, and brigade executive officer during 1967–69. His third tour included duty as deputy G-3 of the 1st Infantry Division and assistant chief of staff , G-5, of the 1st Cavalry Division during 1969–70. For his outstanding service, Doug was awarded the Legion of Merit, five Bronze Star Medals, three Air Medals and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
After Command and General Staff College in 1971, Doug commanded the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry, in Alaska. In 1975 he became an Infantry assignments officer in Military Personnel Center. This was followed by his final assignment in 1978 as the professor of military science at Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID.
After retirement on 30 Jun 1979, Doug joined the Vinnel Corporation, spending three years in Saudi Arabia training the Saudi National Guard. Returning to the United States, the family took up residence in Bullhead City, AZ, for a few years before moving to Las Vegas, where Doug earned his second degree, in hotel administration, at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Armed with his new career credentials, he first joined the management team at Embassy Suites Hotels in Santa Clara, CA. This was followed by assignments in Walnut Creek, CA, and Charlotte, NC. After a short break, he joined the Hilton Hotel chain with duty in Greenville, NC, before retiring and moving to Kissimmee, FL. Not long afterwards, Doug received a call from a friend in the Embassy Suites Hotel chain asking Doug and family to come to Memphis (actually Germantown) TN. This became the final “assignment” for the Detlie family. No matter where Doug Detlie was assigned in the U.S. Army or later worked in civilian life, he always found a place and time to wet a fishing line or sit in a duck blind with his dog. A vacation was not a vacation without fishing or hunting...and Trinka says that was OK with the rest of his family too!!
Doug spent the last three years of life recuperating from a horrible vehicle accident that left him extremely debilitated. During this period, Trinka was constantly at his side. He loved his wife and family dearly and will always be remembered as a leader who treated people as he would expect to be treated. He was a pleasant fellow who could always be counted on to “get the job done” and still have time to hunt and fish with unsurpassed excellence. He will be missed, but we know that he is no longer in pain and in the hands of Our Lord and the “Great Friend and Master of Men.” Be thou at peace, dear husband, father, grandfather and friend.
—His family, friends and classmates of Company D-1
- Mr. David Fiedler