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Arno Lillard Ponder

October 16, 1929 ~ May 29, 2019 (age 89)

Colonel (Ret) Arno L. Ponder, age 84, passed away May 29, 2019 in Maumelle. He was the only child of Arno and Buren Ponder of Poplar Bluff, MO. both deceased. He was born at Doniphan, MO. on October 16, 1929. He was brought to Poplar Buff, MO. by his parents due to a family relocation.

He was raised and educated at Poplar Bluff and attended Westminster College for Men for two years. He then transferred to the University of Missouri where he earned a BA degree in arts and sciences. Upon graduation the Korean War was ongoing and military service loomed.

He enlisted in the US Army in early February 1952. He requested Infantry branch training.  He was subsequently selected to attend Infantry Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Ga. and upon graduation was commissioned a second Lieutenant and designated one of six distinguished graduates thus offered a regular army commission.  Twenty five years later he was inducted into the Infantry Officer Hall of Fame at Fort Benning.

During some 31 years of active service, he commanded several units from platoon level to a brigade sized Unit. Initially he was posted to the 11th Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky.  His first overseas tour was with the 3rd Infantry Division in Korea. Shortly after arriving, Ponder and many of the division’s personnel were transferred to the 25th Infantry Division and redeployed to Hawaii.

In Vietnam he was the Operations Officer (S3) and executive officer (XO) of the famed 1st Bn, 27th Infantry Regiment (Wolfhounds). During a second posting in Korea in 1971 he commanded the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment. He also served as the division Logistic Officer (G4) during the tour.  He was also a Paratrooper and Ranger.

During the early sixties then Captain Ponder was assigned to the Army Training Detachment Kansas State University at Pittsburg, Ks. He taught American Military History for three years to freshmen ROTC cadets.  In his fourth year he taught the senior graduating Cadet class. During the tour he also earned a MS degree in political science.

Colonel Ponder served in the Pentagon during ten of his service years and he was assigned to both the Army General Staff (ODCSLOG-G4) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (J4). Another dozen years were accumulated in Hawaii with the 25th Infantry Division as Commander of the DISCOM and as Chief of the Performance Evaluation Group for Foreign Military Sales at CINCPAC J4.

In addition to college and university attendance he was a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, KS. and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Washington DC.

Among his numerous awards and decorations, his pride was his Infantry Combat Infantry Badge.

He was a fifty-year member of Hancock Lodge #315 at Fort Leavenworth, KS. and an inactive 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason. He was also a member of the Association of the United States Army, the Retired Officers Association, the First Presbyterian Church of Heber Springs, and the American Radio Relay League. His amateur call sign was KZ5F.

Col. Ponder retired from the active Army in 1983 after completing thirty-two years of service. Shortly after retiring he was employed by Transworld Communications Inc. Escondido, CA. as a Foreign Military Sales Consultant for over ten years.  Additionally the Ponders operated an avocado farm as a hobby at Fallbrook, Ca.

The Ponders again relocated to a new retirement experience at Heber Springs in 1999. They enjoyed time at the Buffalo River area with grandchildren and canoeing and water sports on the lake. Both the Ponders were long time volunteers at CARES at Heber. In 2009, accepting the need to downsize their lives and locate closer to medical facilities and big shopping and the arts, they moved to Maumelle and smaller quarters.

He met his wife Jacqueline of thirty three years when serving a tour at Schofield Barracks. She was Comptroller at Jordan Leisure Corporation in Honolulu.  They married in January 1982 at Bangkok, Thailand. They returned to Bangkok and nearby Rangoon on several business and pleasure trips.

Colonel Ponder is survived by his wife and two children by a former marriage, a son Mitchell Sanford, who resides in California and a daughter, Lori Ann of Rhinebeck NY. Other survivors are three stepchildren, stepson, Gregory Hurlock and wife Paige and their children, Ashley, Kolin and Natalie of Laguna Nigel, CA. step daughter, Doctor, (neuropsychologist) Shanna Marie Kurth and husband Rodney of Metamora, IL and children, Taney, Nate, Alex and Ryan and Randi and stepson Mark Hurlock and wife Kirra and two children, Avery and Mackinzie of Mission Viejo, CA. He also leaves seven step great grandchildren and many friends.

The family wishes to extend a special thank you to his caregiver, Natalie Williams.

Inurnment will be in Poplar Bluff City Cemetery at Poplar Bluff, MO. A private service is planned.

Memorials may be made to the Disabled American Veterans Gift Processing, P.O. Box 14301, Cincinnati, OH 45250-0301.

 

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