- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2006

Lt. Col. Joseph Hoch Ewing, former curator of the U.S. Army Museum System, died Aug. 18 of heart failure at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Va. He was 97.

Col. Ewing was born in Roselle, N.J., which he claimed as his home for 45 years before moving to Silver Spring in 1985.

After graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1932, Col. Ewing worked for several weekly newspapers and edited Town, a community magazine in Roselle. He entered the military in 1942 during World War II, graduating from Officer Candidate School and the Officers Advanced Course at Fort Benning, Ga.

He served as an infantry replacement training center instructor at Camp Robinson, Ark., and Camp Fannin, Texas, and also served as a weapons platoon leader with the 242nd Infantry of the 42nd (Rainbow) Division.

In September 1944, he joined the famed 29th Infantry Division of the Maryland-Virginia National Guard as the unit was readying to storm the port city of Brest, France. In Germany, he led his rifle platoon in making an assault crossing of the Roer River at Julich, which led to the division’s drive on Munchen-Gladbach.

During quiet periods on the Roer, Col. Ewing typed and edited a newspaper he titled Chin Strap. The scant-copy newspaper was circulated within the company and also caught the eye of battalion headquarters. The publication earned Col. Ewing the nicknames “Strap” and “The Strap.”

Because of his combat experience and his civilian career in journalism, Col. Ewing was chosen to write an account of the division’s wartime history and was sent to Paris to publish a pamphlet. After the war, he was assigned to Fort Meade and the War Department Historical Division in the Pentagon, where he authored “29 Let’s Go,” the official history of the 29th Division in World War II.

From 1950 to 1953, Col. Ewing served on the historical staff of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s Far East Command Headquarters in Tokyo. He was assigned to public relations with the 1st U.S. Army Headquarters on Governors Island, N.Y., and later became the 1st Army historian and curator of its historical museum.

As a Department of the Army civilian, Col. Ewing served for 15 years as curator of the U.S. Army Museum System, beginning in 1965. He supervised 60 Army museums in the U.S. and overseas and also edited the Army Museum Newsletter.

Col. Ewing’s military awards included the Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Department of Army’s Distinguished Civilian Service Award. He was a member of the Army Reserve, retiring in 1960.

The great-grandson of Sen. Thomas Ewing, Ohio Whig, who was the foster father of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, Col. Ewing in his retirement authored “Sherman at War,” a book based on the texts of 27 Civil War letters written by Gen. Sherman that had been housed undisturbed in the Ewing family attic for a half-century. He also wrote “The 29th: A Short History of a Fighting Division.”

Lt. Col. Ewing said his only hobbies were reading, running and the Baltimore Orioles. A former New Jersey Amateur Athletic Union steeplechase champion and varsity runner at Notre Dame, he celebrated his 80th birthday by running 10 miles.

Col. Ewing was a communicant at the Shrine of St. Jude in Rockville and a member of the Holy Name Society.

He is survived by his wife, Jacqueline June Van Hovel of Silver Spring; two sons, Joseph Hoch Ewing Jr. of West Palm Beach, Fla., and William Tecumseh Sherman Ewing of Fredericksburg; a daughter, Jacqueline A. Pearson of Silver Spring; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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