Claude E. Tanner, Jr.

  • Captain
  • WW II


Claude E. Tanner, Jr. was born 11 December 1911 in Providence, Rhode Island to Claude E. Tanner, Sr. and Mary Cornelia (Parker) Tanner. As an infant, he contracted and survived Scarlet Fever; then at age five, he contracted Tuberculosis and was confined for 19 months at the Rhode Island State Sanitarium at Wallum Lake, Burrillville, Rhode Island. At age 12, he joined the Boy Scouts of America and attained the rank of Eagle Scout. As an adult scout leader, he was awarded the Silver Beaver Award for outstanding support and service to the Boy Scouts of America.

Claude graduated from the Providence Technical High School in 1933 where he was an outstanding student and athlete. He entered the Rhode Island State College (RISC) with the class of 1937 where he participated in Army ROTC for two years. He was President of the East Hall Association in his junior year. He participated in Track and Cross-Country for three years, Glee Club for one year, Band for two years, and the Baseball and the Debating teams. In June 1937, Claude graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with a major in Economics and a minor in Accounting. He was employed as a driver/salesman for eight years; and his employer stated: “Claude was an individual of high morality, dependability and a pleasing personality.”

Claude enlisted in the Army on 15 May 1942, was promoted to Corporal on 3 November 1942, and selected to attend Infantry Officer Candidate School (OCS). Upon graduation from OCS, he was assigned to the 77th Infantry Division as an Infantry Platoon Leader, 307th Infantry Regiment, at Camp Crawford, North Carolina. In July 1944, the 77th Infantry Division participated with the 4th Marine Division in the amphibious landing to capture Guam. The 77th Infantry Division had a difficult landing on 23–24 July. Lacking amphibious vehicles, they had to wade ashore from the edge of the reef where the landing craft dropped them off. The men attacking the two beachheads were pinned down by heavy Japanese fire, making initial progress inland quite slow. Supply was very difficult for the landing troops on Guam in the first days of the battle. Landing ships could not come closer than the reef which was several hundred yards from the beach, and amphibious vehicles were scarce. During the battle of Guam, LT Tanner was wounded and later evacuated to Hawaii and then to a Veteran’s Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan where he ultimately lost his right leg.

Lieutenant Tanner was awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman’s Badge with one Bronze Star and the Asiatic-Pacific Service Ribbon and Campaign Medal. He was promoted to First Lieutenant on 10 April 1945. He was medically retired from the Army on 28 June 1945.

Following his retirement, Claude returned to Rhode Island where he was employed as a Manager for Citizens Bank. He volunteered with the Veteran’s Administration helping other disabled veterans learn to drive vehicles modified to accommodate their disability. Claude served as Treasurer of Trinity United Methodist Church for more than twenty-five years. He was also the Chairman of Boy Scout Troop 44. Claude was a strong supporter of the RISC Alumni Association, 77th Infantry Division Association, Purple Heart Association, American Legion, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

First Lieutenant Claude Edwin Tanner, Jr. died on 27 October 1995 in Pflugerville, Texas. He was preceded in death by his wife Agnes (Morris) Tanner and survived by his two sons: Colonel Robert W. Tanner, URI ’70 and Albert B. Tanner, URI ‘73.

First Lieutenant Claude Edwin Tanner Jr. dedicated his entire life serving his community and nation during peace and war. His exemplary devotion to duty, personal bravery and outstanding leadership are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his family, his country and the University of Rhode Island.