The last time I saw Claude Paul Herman was on the Friday evening of our class’s 25th Reunion.
The class cruised down the Hudson River from West Point to New York City, enjoying dinner and the sights along the river and renewing old friendships. Claude was there with his wife, Bev, whom I was meeting for the first time. As we sat reminiscing, Claude and I had that familiar classmate’s feeling of being able to rejoin our lives and friendship as ifwe had seen each other only a day or so before. It was a magical night of conversation, laughter, and fun. Then, in exactly two short weeks from that wondrous night, Claude was unexpectedly and suddenly taken from; us, his family, friends, classmates, and peers. We will never understand why, only that "His course on life was run."
Claude came to West Point with us almost immediately after his graduation from Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga, TN, where he excelled as both a student and an athlete. Born in 1945, he was the son of Paul and Mary Herman, and was raised in Chattanooga. Claude had two younger brothers, Joe and Ralph.
He came to West Point to play football, and succeeded, playing on the team all four years. In addition, drawing upon his many other talents, he was the sports editor of the 1967 Howitzer, and the art editor of the Pointer. Claude represented Company A-1 on the class’s Car Committee and was active in the Catholic Chapel Choir.
The Howitzer notes that Claude "has more ability than he knows, and when he and the world discover that ability, there will be no ceiling for this multi-talented man." And again, "He has not chosen to share a great mind with the Academic Department, but will shine if he gets into the medical career he wishes." Both comments were prophetic.
Claude was commissioned into the Artillery and immediately began his efforts to enroll in medical school. As with most ofhis endeavors, he was successful, enrolling in the University ofTennessee Medical School in 1968 and graduating in 1972. At his graduation, Claude was recognized for his excellence with the college’s Surgery Award. He was commissioned into the Medical Corps with the rank of major. His first assignment was at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii. In 1977, Claude was reassigned to MEDDAC in Augsburg, Germany, and returned to Ft. Ord in Monterey, CA, in 1980.
While at Ft. Ord, Claude resigned from the Army as a lieutenant colonel and moved into private practice in Incline Village, NV, in 1981.
In private practice, Claude became quite renowned for his expertise as an orthopedic surgeon, specializing in knee and shoulder surgery.
As a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, Claude received honors for his advancements in arthroscopic surgery, completely fulfilling that 1967 prophecy from the Howitzer.
Claude’s first marriage, to Mary Huddleston, did not last long, and they had no children. However, while stationed in Hawaii, he met the love of his life, Beverly Brackett, at that time a student at The University of California-Berkeley. He pursued her until they married in 1976. Claude and Bev had two children, Bryce, born in 1977, and Kristen, born three years later.
Claude’s family truly was the fulfillment of one of his dreams and he provided wonderful surroundings and a quality of life for them. He shared his two passions, golf and boating, with them. Claude came home regularly to golf with his children and he took every Wednesday off from his practice so that he, Bev, Bryce, and Kristen could go boating on Lake Tahoe, often spending the night on Emerald Bay. The last years of his life were spent in building a ranch, complete with stables and horses for Bev and their children. Unfortunately, he spent little time there, finishing the ranch just before his death.
In his eulogy at Claude’s funeral, his son Bryce said, "I dream about dad, I miss him, I will use him as my model." A fitting tribute to our fallen classmate, renowned physician, friend, husband, and father, about whom it can truly be said, "Well done."
Classmates Jeff Madsen and Vic Pangle
- Class of 1967
- LTC (R) and Mrs. Freed Lowrey Jr. '67
- Mr. Jeffrey R. Madsen