Major General (Ret.) Robert John Sunell – 48th Colonel of the Blackhorse. Major General (Ret.) Robert (Bob) John Sunell passed away on August 8, 2020. He was born on June 5, 1929 in Astoria, Oregon, the son of Ernest and Grace Sunell. He enlisted in the National Guard in 1948 upon graduation from Astoria High School and attended the University of Oregon. He married JoAnn Toika in 1951, and they had three children. In an army career spanning more than 33 years of active service and 32 moves, he held multiple positions that significantly impacted the development of the current armored force. He served in the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War, where he commanded an infantry battalion.
Bob’s peers have referred to him as the “father of the modern tank.” He was an extremely forward thinker with respect to the training needs of the Army, and he instituted many programs that greatly improved Army capabilities. He was Deputy Program Manager XM1 Tank Systems in Warren, Michigan, and he conceived and incorporated into the design of the M-1 Tank many innovative ideas that resulted in the Army fielding the premier tank in the world.
He assumed command of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (Blackhorse Regiment) and the Military Community in Fulda, Germany in 1978 (during the height of the Cold War) as the 48th Colonel of the Regiment. His responsibilities included implementing and testing the new cavalry organization, as well as integrating the new ITVs into the regiment. He was promoted to Brigadier General while in command of the 11th Cavalry, the only general to have ever commanded the regiment. Colleagues have commented that this assignment at the 11th was the one he was the proudest of and that meant the most to him.
As a Major General, he was the project manager of the M1 Abrams Tank in Michigan. Here he conceived the idea for a family of armored vehicles to replace the armored force as it became obsolete. He later was the Commander of the Army Training Support Center in Fort Eustis, VA, from 1980-1983. He was responsible for developing, fielding, and distributing new and innovative training systems and devices to help the Army recover from the setbacks it had as a result of the Vietnam War.
Upon retirement, Bob with his wife JoAnn formed a consulting firm, Suonperra, which worked closely with US and allied militaries to improve international cooperation through common equipment and methods. Bob was also a contract professional for several companies involved in training simulation, robotics, artificial intelligence, and armaments for future combat vehicles.
He was an excellent leader, an innovative thinker, a visionary, a man devoted to his wife, and a person loyal to his family and friends. He received numerous honors throughout his life. He was decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit (twice), Bronze Star, Air Medal (twice), Meritorious Service award, and the Army Commendation Medal, among many others. He was a member of the Saab- sponsored Swedish Science Council, the Association of the United States Army, the Calvary and Armor Association, and the Blackhorse Association.
Bob’s nickname in the military was the “Fighting Finn.” He was proud of his Finnish heritage. Bob had Sisu, which is a Finnish term that describes an underlying trait of the Finnish people. It does not translate into any single English word, but it can be described as hardiness, courage, bravery, willpower, tenacity, resilience, and guts. In his legacy, he has instilled that in his children and grandchildren to be carried on in the Sunell family.
He loved the Army, but he also enjoyed his retirement in Queen’s Lake and later Patriots Colony, Virginia. He was an avid reader, golfer, fisherman, hunter, gardener, and sauna enthusiast. He loved the Duke Blue Devils, the Virginia Cavaliers college basketball team coached by Tony Bennett, and the Washington Nationals baseball team.
Bob was devoted to his wife, JoAnn, and he was blessed with an abundance of close friendships. He cherished the time spent with his daughters, their husbands, and his grandchildren.
He is survived by his daughters Perry Peterson (Art) and Dr. Patti Johnson (David); his grandchildren Jake Sunell Sigl (Geonni), Molly Peterson, Andrea Peterson, and Stacy Sunell; and his great-grandson Parker Eugene McGirr.
Bob was preceded in death by his wife JoAnn and his son Robert P. Sunell.
An interment will take place at Arlington National Cemetery on a date to be determined. Memorial contributions may be made to the Blackhorse Association at this address: Treasurer, The Blackhorse Association (Daniel M. Caughey, CPA), PO Box 1712, Mill Valley, CA 94942.
Full obituary and condolences may be viewed at www.nelsonwilliamsburg.comopens in a new window.
Burnis Glenn Allardyce. Glenn Allardyce, 74, passed away on August 11, 2020 after a long illness with Parkinson’s disease and Essential Tremor. He was born on March 29, 1946 in Beaumont, Texas to parents Samuel Burnis Allardyce and Eunice Louise (Peavey) Allardyce. He was reared in Houston and attended Stephen F. Austin High School.
He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Gabriele (Vogt) Allardyce; son Jeffery Allen Allardyce; daughter Gayle Diane Centanni; brother Dale Allardyce; loving granddaughters Elizabeth Centanni, Sofia Centanni, and Katherine Centanni; daughter- in-law Michelle Allardyce; son-in-law Paul Centanni; and many nieces and nephews.
Glenn retired after 25 years of service in the US Army in 1994 as a Lieutenant Colonel, USAR. He then worked in the offshore subsea oil & gas business with Vetco Offshore and later with FMC Technologies. He retired again in 2006 after holding many positions over his years in the oil business, such as Project Coordinator, Subsea Project Sales, Subsea Project Manager, and Western Hemisphere Subsea Quotations/Proposals Manager. He travelled on business frequently in the US and overseas with several assignments in the UK and Singapore.
Glenn was a 1969 University of Texas, Business Route to Mechanical Engineering graduate, where he received his USAR Commission as a 2nd Lieutenant upon graduation. He was an ROTC Distinguished Military Student and Distinguished Military Graduate. He later received a Regular Army Commission while stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas where he was serving as a Tank Battalion Maintenance Officer for the 2nd Armored Division’s 1st Bn, 66th Armor.
After attending Armor Officer’s Basic Training at Fort Knox and Airborne and Ranger Schools at Fort Benning, he deployed to West Germany where he served on the East/West German border for 3 years at “The Fulda Gap” with the 14th, and later with the 11th Armored Calvary Regiments in several assignments. These included Tank Platoon Leader, Armored Cavalry Platoon Leader, Armored Cavalry Troop Executive Officer, Regimental S-3 Air, Regimental Training Officer, and NRAS (Nuclear Release Authorization System Officer). It was during these years that he met and married his wife of many years, Gabriele (Vogt) Allardyce, in Bad Hersfeld, Federal Republic of Germany.
Afterwards, he spent 16 years assigned to the 75th USA Maneuver Area Command in Houston, during most of this time assigned to the Armored Cavalry Regiment Exercise Group 07F as the Regimental S-2 Controller and later as a Squadron Command Controller. He served his last 2 years as the G-3 for the Division Exercise Group. He finished his military career with the 417th Individual Mobilization Detachment, also in Houston.
He is the recipient of many military awards and honors, including being inducted into the Loyal Order of St. George as a Distinguished Knight (Silver Medallion) for long and honorable service to Armor and Cavalry; the Ranger Tab; and the Army Airborne Wings. He graduated from the US Army’s Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas on the Commandant’s list, and he was on the Board of Directors of The Blackhorse Association. The Blackhorse Association provides College and Trade School Scholarships to deserving children of the regiment who have parents who have served with the regiment. Glenn was a longtime member of Champions Forest Baptist Church.
Visitation will take place in Houston on Friday, August 28, 2020, at Earthman Resthaven Funeral Home from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Funeral Services will be Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 10 a.m. in the Chapel of Earthman Resthaven. Interment with Military Honors will immediately follow in the Earthman Resthaven Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested any donations be directed to the National Parkinson Foundation at www.parkinson.orgopens in a new window.
A note to our members:
Glenn devoted many hours over several years to the Blackhorse Association, and he was the reason we created so many worthwhile projects that endure to this very day. Some of his contributions to the Association are mentioned in the next-to-last section of the following document, which was used in his 2014 induction into the Honorary Rolls of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.