Retired Colonel Edmund G. Derning Jr. passed away Wednesday, April 25, 2012. Derning was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and a Marine to the core of his soul.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Friday, May 4, 2012 at Generations Church, 5317 E. Highway 377.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be mailed to Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, 3800 Fettler Park Drive, Suite 104, Dumfries, Va. 22025.
Derning was among the last surviving Marine Raiders of World War II. The Marine Raiders were a legendary fighting organization that struck fear in the heart of our nation’s enemies and gave our country hope during the darkest days of World War II.
Derning quietly resided in our community possessing an unassuming manner with a level of humility we find to be common in true military heroes. He was guest of honor for the 2010 Granbury Marine Corps Ball where he gave a motivating keynote speech to all of the Marines and their guests.
Derning was born in Chicago, Ill. Oct. 20, 1921, the son of Edmund and Julia Derning. He graduated from Carl Schurz High School and later enlisted in the Marine Corps Sept. 21, 1942. After serving three years as a member of the 4th Marine Raider Battalion he graduated from The Basic School, Quantico, Va.
He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant on Nov. 21, 1945. He eventually rose to the rank of Colonel and retired from the Marine Corps in June 1974.
Derning commanded Marines at every level, from Platoon leader to Regimental Commander. He was a “China Marine” during the turbulent years of 1948 and 1949. As a Company Commander serving with the 9th Marines young Captain Derning was witness to the destructive birth of Communist China.
Derning eventually became an innovative and effective Regimental Commander in Vietnam, where he was the chief architect of Operation Pickins Forest.
Derning was commanding the 7th Marines Regiment in Pickens Forest In early July 1970. The result of this operation was twofold: the 7th Marines were able to extensively pacify NVA and Viet Cong activity in their area of operations, while keeping Marine casualties to a minimum. Derning harkened back to his training as a Marine Raider and relied extensively on night operations, which had the effect of keeping the enemy completely off balance, while his Marines took control of key terrain leading to the Que Son Valley.
Derning’s innovation and leadership was a trademark of his entire career as a Marine.
Subsequent to retirement, Derning achieved a Masters Degree in Public Administration and Labor Relations.
From 1975 to 1976 he served as the Director of Management Information for the Employers Association of San Diego; from 1980 to 1981 as Executive Director of the In-Plant Printing Management Association, Chicago/New Orleans; and from 1981 to 1986 self employed as Consultant in Labor Relations, San Diego, Calif.
Derning’s military awards include the Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Star, World War II Victory Medal, China Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal with Star, Korean Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for Cuban Service, Second Award for Vietnam Service and two Legions of Merit.
His later years were filled with love for golf and exploring, camping and fishing in Baja California with family.
Derning and his wife moved to Granbury in 2005 and lived in DeCordova.
He will be missed by his family and fellow Marines who knew him as a true gentleman and warrior leader.
Survivors include his wife Clara Winnie Derning of Granbury; sons Patrick R. Derning of San Diego, Calif. and George H. Jaspert IV, Oceanside, Calif.; daughter Christina Jaspert Kennedy, Granbury; grandson Edmund Ryan Hoyt, U.S. Army Afghanistan 82nd Airborne; granddaughters, Mrs. Kerri D. Radford, Poulsbo, Wash., Mrs. Kathryn D. Hudson, Spokane, Wash., and Kendra Derning, Kenai, Ark.; grandsons Noah E. Kenney, Stephenville, Patrick J. Derning, San Diego, Calif., David W. Kennedy, Fort Worth, Joshua R. Kennedy, Granbury, George H. Jaspert V, Oceanside, Calif. and Jonathan F. Jaspert, Oceanside, Calif., and six great-grandchildren.