Cyril L. Kammeier

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Cyril L. Kammeier

Cyril Leo “Cy” Kammeier, 89, passed away peacefully in the early hours of October 2, 2022 at the VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Martinsburg, West Virginia, among his tribe of veterans and the dedicated staff who serve them. Cy, a retired U.S. Marine Corps veteran, devoted much of his life to serving fellow veterans including more than 1,500 volunteer hours to the Martinsburg VAMC. He chaired their Volunteer Service Executive Council and represented them at the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN 5) Regional Headquarters in Baltimore, MD. Cy was recognized in 2013 by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) as Volunteer of the Year for West Virginia, and in 2015 by the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) as National Patriot of the Year. His duty was his passion, to veterans and his family, leavened by his sense of humor.

Cy was born Valentine’s Day, 1933, in Cold Spring, Minnesota. His junior year of high school he met a new girl, Mary Ann Altendahl, and they became sweethearts. On his eighteenth birthday, Cy and his older brother enlisted in the Marine Corps. Cy soon shipped off to combat in Korea. Upon returning, he traveled to Texas where Mary was serving in the Air Force, and she agreed to marry him on the first day of spring, 1954. At various duty stations they raised three children, and enjoyed attending conventions of the Marine Corps League and the MOPH. In Mary’s later illnesses, he lovingly cared for her at home until her death in 2020. Cy often said that you have to play the hand you’re dealt, and he most often did so brilliantly.

Cy served in the Marine Corps for twenty-three years, including tours in Japan and Vietnam. He was a “mustang,” rising through enlisted ranks through officer training and officer ranks, retiring as captain in 1974. In 1968, after a 12-week training course, he deployed as a Vietnamese Marine advisor. He found that “between his half-vast Vietnamese and their half-vast English, communication was not difficult” and that “a sense of humor wins universal acceptance in dealing with people under a variety of circumstances.” He served his last five years as administrative assistant to two successive commandants of the Marine Corps. He earned many commendation medals throughout his career, including the Bronze Star with Combat “V”, two awards of the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V”, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal for exceptional service throughout his career, and a Purple Heart Medal for wounds inflicted in Vietnam.

After his retirement from active duty, Cy learned he was happiest serving veterans. He became executive director of Leatherneck Magazine, then the Marine Corps League. He worked for Booz-Allen Inc. for three years, then co-founded a company that organized annual national defense exhibitions. In 1998, at age 65 he sold his interest in the business and became editor of Purple Heart Magazine, doing desktop publishing from his home office for 11 years. Cy was a mover and shaker in the MOPH, lobbying for the issuance of the United States Postal Service Forever stamp in 2012.

Cyril L. Kammeier is survived by his sister Lila Bernick, his daughter Deborah (Miles) Lee, sons Keith Allan and John Paul (Skip Sroka), grandchildren Daniel Lee and Anne Lee (Matthew) Phillips, and great-grandchildren Evelyn and Barrett Phillips.

His and his wife’s remains will be inurned together at Arlington National Cemetery with a military funeral service scheduled later.