John Elliot Theimer was born in Owatonna, MN, where he received his elementary schooling and entered Pillsbury Academy at the age of eleven. He graduated from Pillsbury in 1924 with his heart set on West Point. At 16, however, he was too young and did not know about waivers, so he took advantage of a scholarship awarded to him as class salutatorian to attend Carleton College for a year before entering the Academy in July 1925.
On Graduation Day, "Johnny" was commissioned in the Field Artillery and promptly began his association with horses. He taught riding at a girls’ camp in Wisconsin during graduation leave with his classmate Bob Evans. He then was assigned to Battery B, 18th Field Artillery, a horse drawn unit at Ft. Sill, whose principal functions were to fire their French 75s for the Field Artillery School and provide the artillery for school tactical exercises. Horse activities, riding jumpers, hunters, and polo occupied most of his off-duty time.
In November 1931, Johnny married Helen M. Stone, daughter of COL (later MG) David L. Stone, Class of 1898, who helped build Ft. Sill, the "new post." On 7 Feb 1933, the couple was blessed with the birth of their only child, Constance.
After completing the Battery Officers Course in 1934 and the Advance Equitation Course in 1935, Johnny was ordered to Battery C, 24th Field Artillery (Philippine Scouts) at Ft. Stotsenburg (later renamed Clark Field). After a few months, he commanded the battery and its only officer. After two pleasant years there, and leave in China and Japan, the Theimers moved to Ft. Riley, where he was assigned to Battery B, 84th Field Artillery in January 1938. In June 1939, he was ordered to the Field Artillery Horse Show Team but it was disbanded after the German invasion of Poland.
CPT Theimer then took command of Battery A, 18th Field Artillery. After a few months, MAJ Theimer became the regimental supply officer and, after a few more months, commanded 3rd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery (155mm howitzer). At about that time, he rode his own horse, "Square Deal," the only Handicap D (highest) among 80-odd entries in the handicap jumping class and had the good fortune to win with a clean performance. That was his final ride; he never mounted a horse again.
After the short CGSC course, he was assigned to the Department of Tactics at the Field Artillery School. In May 1943, he moved to Ft. Jackson with the 112th Field Artillery Group and, after a tour at Ft. Bragg as S-3, 22d Brigade, took command of the 695th Armored Field Artillery Battalion. In February 1944, the 695th was moved to Morton Morell, England, and then to France in early July.
After the breakout from the Normandy Peninsula, the 4th Armored Division and the 695th charged out to Lorient and, a week later, charged non-stop back to Chartres. During the night of 6-7 Sep 1944, the 695th, supporting a task force of the 7th Armored Division, moved to the Moselle River. Upon arrival of the task force, the enemy blew up the bridge. The 695th maneuvered next to Maisiere-les-Metz, taking positions from the Germans as well as a number of prisoners. The 695th was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation. "With regret, Johnny left the 695th to become the 90th Division Artillery Executive Officer and was promoted to colonel.
There, he had the good fortune to serve under MG (later LTG) Raymond S. McLain and MG (later GEN) James A. Van Fleet. Johnny commanded the 5 th Armored Field Artillery Group in the Saar-Moselle Triangle. The 5th Group supported several armored divisions and a number of Infantry divisions during the spring and summer of 1945, crossing the Rhein at Mainz, to Kassel, Chemnitz, and back around to Regensburg in Bavaria, and then to Rosenheim after VE Day. Johnny was awarded the Silver Star, the Purple Heart, and other decorations for his actions during that period.
In 1946, Johnny served his first tour with the Navy at Little Creek, VA, and, one year later, participated in the first course at the Armed Forces Staff College. In July 1947, he started a tour at the Pentagon with the Organization and Training Division, followed by tours with the National Security Council Staff as Chief of International Branch, Plans and Operations Division. Following the National War College in 1952 and a few months in Heidelberg, Germany, he assumed command of the 28th, later the 9th Division Artillery, at Goeppingen and was promoted to brigadier general.
In 1955, he became Assistant Commandant of the Field Artillery School at Ft. Sill, where he instituted the instruction and equipment for the first missile courses. In 1956, he was promoted to major general and returned to the Pentagon as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations. In October 1958, he took command of the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, together with U.S. Army Hawaii, a support organization that administered various Army activities throughout the islands and provided logistic and maintenance support. After 18 happy months, Johnny moved to CINCPAC as Deputy Chief of Staff and, after one more year, moved back to the Pentagon as Chief of Civil Affairs. In May 1962, he took command of the XV Corps at the Presidio of San Francisco and, a year later, became Deputy Commander, Sixth Army. In April 1965, his beloved Helen died and, in June, he retired from the Army he loved and enjoyed.
Remaining in San Francisco, Johnny stayed occupied in the brokerage business and with a number of clubs and civic activities. During that period, he met Grace Wilson and they married in May 1967. She died in 1998.
His daughter, Constance, and son-in-law COL Charles B. Lee ’49; two grandchildren, Patricia Faris and Charles B. Lee, Jr.; and four great-grandchildren survive him.