After 20 years of military service and living in the South, Lt. Col. Samuel M. Siler retired his uniform in 1974 and took his family north, where he and his wife created their home on 33 acres they bought in Gloucester Township.
Soon after, he acquired his first Tennessee walking horse. At one time, the family had five horses, training them to be champions of numerous competitions, said Mr. Siler’s son Mark.
On Sunday, Feb. 19, Mr. Siler, 84, died at the New Jersey Veterans Memorial Hospital at Vineland from complications of a stroke in 2015, his son said.
Neighbors could see Mr. Siler riding his horses daily. He was well-known in the community as a volunteer for various organizations, including the Blackwood Rotary Club. He also served on the Gloucester Township Council from 1988 to 2001, serving as president from 1993 to 1996 and 1999 to 2001.
Born and raised in North Carolina, Mr. Siler joined the Air Force in 1949. He was discharged in 1952 as a sergeant. In 1957, he joined the Army, serving in Korea and doing two tours in Vietnam.
During his time in Vietnam, from December 1964 to November 1965, a military citation noted that Mr. Siler, then an Army captain, displayed “extensive knowledge” and was quick to solve problems during a counterinsurgency operation.
When he retired in 1974 as lieutenant colonel, he had earned numerous medals, including the Bronze Star, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze service stars, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and National Defense Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster.
In receiving the Meritorious Service Medal in 1969, a note in Mr. Siler’s military record concluded that “the outstanding performance of duty rendered by Maj. Siler is in the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, this command, and the United States Army.”
During an interview in 2002 with the Camden Courier-Post, Mr. Siler recalled that “in Vietnam, the whole area was a combat zone."
"The Viet Cong would blow up buildings but [even] if intelligence thought there might be a bomb in your building, you couldn't leave if it was past curfew."
Mr. Siler’s last military assignment was at the Pentagon, where he worked as a computer operator, according to family and military records.
Mr. Siler attended North Carolina A&M State University. While still in the Army, he earned a master’s degree in teaching and data processing in 1972. He later went to work for Drexel University from 1974 through 1988 as a manager of computer services, his son said.
Years earlier, he had met his future wife, Joyce Carrington, in Philadelphia. She was a nurse and the two were introduced by a mutual friend, Mark Siler said. They wed in 1964.
“They had a great marriage,” Mark Siler said, noting that his father took care of his wife, who has health issues, until his stroke.
In Gloucester Township, Mr. Siler took on issues he believed were important, pushing for a tax that would pay to preserve open space and funding for a recreational center. He left the council in 2002 to spend more time caring for his horses, his son said.
In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Siler is survived by son Orrin M. Wright, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Interment will take place later at Arlington National Cemetery.
Contributions in Mr. Siler’s memory may be made to Disabled American Veterans at https://www.dav.org, or the Wounded Warrior Project at https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org.
Condolences may be left for the family at www.earlefuneralhome.com.