A graduate of Chaminade High School on Long Island, N.Y., John G. “Jack” Aicher graduated in 1952 from St. Bonaventure with a Bachelor of Arts in English.
A distinguished military graduate, he declined a Regular Army commission, but was called to active duty soon after graduation. Assigned to the recently activated 191st Field Artillery Battalion, 278th Regimental Combat Team, he reported to Camp Drum, N.Y., in August 1952.
The assignment allowed for extensive training, and Aicher directed 16-inch naval gunfire from the battleship New Jersey during Operation Seascape in Little Creek, Va., and trained for sustained cold weather operations during Operation Snowstorm at Camp Drum.
In March 1953, he reported to the Field Artillery Battery Officer Course at Fort Sill, Okla. This was a prerequisite for assignment to Far East Command (FECOM), which inevitably meant combat operations in Korea. Aicher received orders and deployed to Korea in August 1953. He joined the Seventh Infantry Division’s 49th Field Artillery Battalion as a forward observer.
Soon after the Armistice Agreement that separated the warring factions, he was assigned to an observation post on the newly created demilitarized zone (DMZ). He also performed a variety of additional duties, including defense counsel for the battalion special court martial and Troop Information and Education (TI&E) Officer, which required him to keep troops informed on “why we were in Korea.”
After serving several months as the battalion communications officer, he received orders to return to the United States. He was honorably released from active duty in May 1954. He immediately joined the Active Reserve’s 77th Division, with headquarters in New York City. There, Aicher served as aide de camp to the DIVARTY commander for two years before being assigned to command of Headquarters Battery, 77th Division Artillery.
An accomplished marksman, he was captain of the 77th Division Rifle Team and won the gold medal for highest individual score at the 1957 New York Military District Rifle Championship. He remained in battery command until his retirement from the Active Reserve as a captain in 1963.
Aicher’s dedication to service persisted beyond his 11 years in uniform. He earned his Juris Doctor from Fordham University School of Law in 1957 and enjoyed a long and varied career as an attorney and public servant. Admitted to the bar in New York and Vermont, he served as chief counsel of the New York State Joint Legislative Committee on Towns and Villages, legislative counsel to Assemblyman George Farrell and as a volunteer attorney in the New York State Prison System and for homeowners in foreclosure actions, Suffolk Supreme Court.
Aicher also was a volunteer judge for the New York City Small Claims Night Court of Queens and Harlem and the pro bono attorney representing a family in the Diocese of Burlington, Vt.
Aicher was an early contributor to the work of the Seneca Battalion Army ROTC Hall of Fame and has remained actively engaged in activities at his alma mater. In 2014, he published his memoirs in the book "Footprints," and in 2017 he was featured in the St. Bonaventure Army ROTC Korean War Project.
A consistent servant-leader who embodies the Franciscan values he learned at St. Bonaventure, Aicher and his wife, Anne, raised four daughters and a son. He has been active in Catholic parishes in New York and Vermont and serves as a food pantry volunteer with the North Fork Parish Outreach.
Aicher was awarded the U.N. Service Medal, Korean Service Medal and National Defense Medal, and also received recognition for his work on behalf of prisoners in New York State prisons and from the Board of Trustees and faculty of Molloy College upon his retirement from the board after 12 years of service.
A 1983 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, Gene W. McConville received a Regular Army commission as an armor second lieutenant. After completing the Armor Officer Basic Course, he served as platoon leader, company executive officer and assistant S-3 in the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Armor, 1st Brigade, Third Armor Division in Kirsch Goens, Germany, from 1983 to 1987.
In 1988, he was branch transferred to Military Intelligence. He completed the Intelligence Officer Advanced Course at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and was assigned as Chief, Plans, Policy, Programs in the Office of the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Human Intelligence (HUMINT) Operations. This experience led him to be selected for additional training before he became the assistant Department of the Army attaché in Lagos, Nigeria.
From 1991 to 1994, he observed and reported on a cycle of critical transition and election activities as Nigeria changed from a military government to democratic government under civilian authority. He also deployed to Somalia, where he coordinated an effort with U.S. and Nigerian militaries to implement a Nigerian Armor Battalion in Somalia to support Operation Restore Hope.
McConville’s next assignment was as the Assistant Army Attaché in Pretoria, South Africa, where, from 1994 to 1996, he observed the political transition from apartheid to a post-apartheid government. He set up the first US post-apartheid Security Assistance Program in South Africa and facilitated the transition and integration of the African National Congress into the South African National Defense Force.
Graduating from the Naval War College in 1997, he was assigned to a special mission unit as deputy director in support of operations in the Balkan Theater from 1997 to 1999. He returned to embassy service in 1999 and as the assistant Army attaché in Jakarta, Indonesia, observed and reported on transitional governments in the area, including hostilities in East Timor, and provided key insights regarding Al Qaida affiliates in the region.
In 2003, he began a second assignment to a special mission unit that conducted cross-border operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He reported on terrorism, Kashmir separatist issues and nuclear threats as the assistant Army attaché in Islamabad, Pakistan, from 2004 to 2005, before completing immersion training in Persian/Farsi, prior to assignment as the Defense Attaché in Islamabad, in 2006. There, he led and managed a large defense attaché office that supported Central Command issues until 2008, when he was assigned as the deputy director, training, HUMINT in the Defense Intelligence Agency.
McConville became the Theater Counterintelligence HUMINT coordinator for the International Security Assistance Force, NATO Command and U.S. Forces Afghanistan Command in 2009. In 2010, he joined the faculty of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies and ran programs for African military partners and published on African airlift capabilities.
He retired from the U.S. Army as a colonel in 2012. His numerous awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal (2nd Award), Defense Meritorious Service Medal (3rd Award), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal (2nd Award), Meritorious Unit Citation (6th Award), National Defense Service Medal (2nd Award), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (5th Award) NATO Medal and the Parachutist Badge.
Having grown up in Washington, D.C., Joseph E. Potter enrolled at St. Bonaventure University, joined the Army ROTC program and graduated in May 1966 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance and a commission as a field artillery second lieutenant.
In September, he was recalled from The Army Reserve and reported to Fort Sill, Okla., for the Field Artillery Basic Officer Course. Upon graduation, he began the Officer Rotary Wing Aviator Course at Fort Wolters, Texas, in early 1967, and earned his aviator’s wings. He completed advanced flight training at Fort Rucker, Ala., in August 1967.
In November 1967, Potter reported for duty in the Republic of Vietnam and was assigned to the 68th Assault Helicopter Company, 145th Combat Aviation Battalion, 12 Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade. Flying UH1 “Huey” troop carriers and gunships out of Bien Hoa, Potter served with the “Top Tigers” and “Mustangs.”
On April 4, 1968, he was shot down, just south of Long Binh. Wounded in his right hand and cheek, he skillfully brought the badly damaged helicopter to the American base. Potter continued to fly and two months later, on June 7, 1968, while flying a mission near the Mekong Delta, he was shot down for the second time. In this instance, another crew retrieved him and, shortly after, his Huey helicopter, which was found to have 138 bullet holes. Potter was wounded in the left elbow and arm.
He recovered and was assigned to the 120th Assault Helicopter Company in Saigon. Soon after, he met United States Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) Commanding Gen. Creighton Abrams, who, with the incentive of an early promotion to captain, appointed Potter as the leader of the “Razorbacks” Huey gunship platoon in September 1968.
The Razorbacks were a VIP organization in direct support of MACV headquarters, and Potter often flew while in direct radio contact with Abrams. The work continued to be dangerous, but he volunteered to extend his tour and assisted in the transition of new personnel before he left Vietnam in December 1968. In his 13 months in Vietnam, he had flown 1,400 combat hours.
Potter was assigned to Fort Campbell, Ky, in December 1968 and commanded a basic training company until being honorably released from active duty in September 1969. He continued to fly as an Army aviator in the Virginia National Guard for seven more years.
In 1974, he began a career as a broker with the Alliance Insurance Group and he retired in 2013. He and his wife, Mary Margaret, have been parents to four children.
Potter was submitted for the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal and second Purple Heart Medal, but the records were lost when an administrative building was destroyed by enemy fire before his departure from Vietnam.
His military awards include the Purple Heart Medal, Air Medal (37 OLC), Vietnam Campaign Medal with “60” Device, Vietnam Service Medal with 5 Campaign Stars, National Defense Service Medal, Two Overseas Service Bars, Army Aviator Badge and Expert Pistol and Rifle Badges.
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