Colonel S.B.I. Duncan
Colonel Duncan was a citizen-soldier as long as one could be, from his early teens until his death. At
the age of fourteen (about 1908) and perhaps before, he was voluntarily pasting and setting targets for
the Delaware Militia at the State Rifle Range below New Castle, as well as running errands and doing
other chores. At seventeen and a half years old in the presence of his father and mother, he enlisted as a
Private of Infantry in the First Delaware Infantry, and subsequently rose through every enlisted and
officer rank to Colonel, an Anti-Aircraft Artillery Group Commander. His death was premature from
and injury/illness contracted during service in the European Theater in World War II, and just prior to
when he was scheduled to receive the rank of Brigadier General as an Air Defense Artillery Brigade
Commander in the Delaware National Guard.
He had a distinguished combat record of eight campaigns of Federal Service, from the Mexican Border in
1916 to service in the First World War and in both the Pacific and European Theaters in World War II.
He also served in numerable calls to State Service to prevent lynching, quell riots, escort World War I
Bonus Marchers through the State of Delaware and to provide for the health and protection of the State
of Delaware in times of disaster.
His leadership during his enlisted years in particular was legendary in the Delaware National Guard. To
recognize his service to his state and nation, his wife, the late Elmira Newell Duncan established the
Colonel S.B.I. Duncan Foundation to provide an annual award to recognize the enlisted soldiers and
airmen who were felt to emulate Colonel Duncan’s style of leadership.
On August 12, 1948 the annual encampment was dedicated in his name. About 1000 visitors were in
attendance on a rainy day with state and local officials from all over the state. Delaware journalist
William Frank reported that those in attendance spoke very highly and lovingly of Colonel Duncan .
Governor Bacon characterized him as a "fine Delawarean and a good soldier."
A quarter century later, an armory was dedicated in Colonel Duncan's memory on Pearl Harbor Day,
|Delaware Military History