Seneca Battalion Hall of Fame
Members Inducted in 2006
Richard J. Alderman
LTC, USAF, Retired
A 1952 graduate of Houghton College, Richard J. Alderman earned a direct commission in the United States Air Force. After completing basic officer training, he studied meteorology for a year at New York University and was assigned to the 306th Bomb Wing of the Strategic Air Command as Weather Liaison Officer. His duty with this organization included deployments to Africa, The Azores, Great Britain and Puerto Rico.
He completed four years of service and left the Air Force to pursue his calling as an educator, beginning his career as a math and science teacher at Starpoint near Niagara Falls, New York in 1956. Remaining in the Air Force Reserve, he was called to active duty in 1961-62 during the political crises related to Berlin and Cuba. While mobilized, he served as the Chief Forecaster and Acting Commander of a USAF weather detachment for one year.
After being released from active duty, Alderman continued his career in education, returning to Starpoint for several years before taking a position teaching math and science at Canisteo Central School, where he eventually became principal of the high school.
He continued his teaching career, but chose to remain in the Air Force Reserve, earning promotion to lieutenant colonel after 19 years of service. At this grade, he became the Western New York liaison officer for the U. S. Air Force Academy, and retired in 1985 as a lieutenant colonel with 28 years of service. That year, he exceeded the four cadet quota and placed ten high school students from Rep. Amo Houghton’s Congressional District as freshmen at the Air Force Academy. For this achievement and service, he was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.
Alderman’s ties to Houghton remained strong throughout his teaching career. After serving as president of the Alumni Association in 1972, he joined Houghton College’s administration to organize a recruiting and admission program. Taking on additional administrative responsibilities as Registrar and Director of Alumni Affairs, Alderman was for 20 years Houghton College’s representative to the Four College Committee, which included St. Bonaventure University. His professional relationship with Seneca Battalion Hall of Fame member Prof. Leo E. Keenan, who represented St. Bonaventure on the Committee, was instrumental in developing cross-registration agreements between these institutions that allowed Houghton students to take military science courses through St. Bonaventure. A partnership agreement made in 1981 has allowed Houghton College students to earn commissions through the St. Bonaventure University Army ROTC program.
Alderman retired from Houghton in 1991 and taught at Southern Wesleyan University in South Carolina for five years. He has been president of two Rotary clubs and in 2006 served as president of the Houghton Community Association and the Mount Pleasant Cemetery Association. Often with his wife Gerry, he has volunteered his time and talent in capacities that included volunteering at a children’s home in Macon, Georgia and serving as a driver for the Office of the Aging “Meals on Wheels” program.
Before his retirement from Houghton, his colleagues and students affectionately called Alderman “Mr. ROTC” and the success of many Army officers who are Houghton College graduates ensured his legacy of being “Mr. ROTC” at his alma mater.
Albert LaBarbera ‘52
COL U.S. Army, Retired
Born in Cuba, New York, Albert LaBarbera graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 1952 with a bachelor of business administration degree and a commission as a Regular Army officer earned through the Army ROTC program. He graduated from the Field Artillery Basic Officer Course and the Surface to Surface Missile Battery Officer Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and served in a number of artillery officer assignments, including Executive Officer and Battery Commander of the 868th Field Artillery Battalion (280mm), in Germany and S3 of the 523rd Field Artillery Missile Battalion (CPL) at Fort Bliss, Texas.
He completed the Finance Officer Basic Course in 1958 and continued his career in that branch, serving initially as the Deputy Finance Officer of Fort Lee, Virginia until 1960. He completed an MBA in Management from Indiana University in 1961 and was assigned as Advisor to the Comptroller, Turkish Ministry of National Defense and Joint Military Assistance Plans and Programs Officer in Ankara, Turkey until 1964. In this capacity, he assisted the Turkish Ministry of Defense in the establishment of a Comptroller School by providing curriculum, lesson plans and training aids in the Turkish language and was instrumental in the Ministry of Defense’s adoption of a training model that assured long-term success of the school. By improving the internal coordination and control of Military Assistance Planning and Programming within the Joint U. S. Mission for Aid to Turkey (JUSMAT), he developed best practices for foreign army training used in future missions.
Following this assignment, he was selected as Deputy Director, Department of Finance and Management Instructor at the U. S. Army Finance School, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. After completing the Finance Officer Advanced Course in 1967, LaBarbera returned to overseas duty when he joined the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam as its Finance Officer from 1967-68. His association with the 4th Infantry Division remained strong, and he became chairman of the 4th Infantry Division Association, Vietnam Chapter, establishing a scholarship fund for children of the Division’s members killed in action and publishing procedures for the handling of funds donated to this cause. Since its inception, the fund has provided financial assistance to more than 300 children. After serving in Vietnam, he returned to the United States and served as the Assistant Chief, Accounting Division of the Defense Supply Agency before another tour in Germany in 1971, where he was Assistant Chief of Staff, Comptroller for VII Corps. He completed his active career as a colonel and Director of Centralized Pay Operations, U. S. Army Finance Center, Fort Benjamin Harrison, a post he held from 1974 until his retirement in 1976.
Actively engaged in a variety of community service projects since his retirement, LaBarbera was President of the Lawrence Indiana Exchange Club and in 2005 earned the Outstanding Exchange Spirit Award for his contribution to a September 11, 2001 terrorist attack memorial. He was named Lawrence 2005 Exchangite of the Year. His military awards include the Legion of Merit with One Oak Leaf Cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with One Oak Leaf Cluster, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, National Defense Service Medal with One Service Star, Vietnam Service Medal with 4 Service Stars, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Meritorious Unit Citation, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation and the Republic of Vietnam Civic Action Honor Medal Unit Citation. In August 2002, he was named a Distinguished Member of the Finance Regiment.
Thomas A. Ryan ‘52
First Lieutenant (1952-55)
A 1948 graduate of Mount St. Michael High School in the Bronx, Thomas A. Ryan received an academic scholarship to attend St. Bonaventure University. Enrolling as an English major, he joined the Army ROTC program and was a Distinguished Military Graduate of the Class of 1952. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, Infantry in the Regular Army while the war in Korea was at its height. He graduated from the Infantry Officer Basic Course and served in several positions in Japan and Okinawa. After three years as an Army officer, he applied for and received an appointment in 1956 to the Central Intelligence Agency, in which he served for thirty-five years.
During his career in the CIA, Ryan was stationed at various times in Brazil, Thailand, Australia and Japan. Perhaps his most significant service, however, was his work as the CIA Station Chief in Warsaw, Poland from 1980 to 1982. His assignment to the post coincided with Lech Walesa’s historic movement of shipyard workers at Gdansk, which eventually became known as Solidarity, against Soviet dominated oppression of the Poles. The Soviets were increasingly concerned about this challenge to their authority and had determined to suppress this opposition by military means if necessary, which would have resulted in a catastrophic confrontation with NATO.
The New York Times’ Benjamin Weiser detailed Ryan’s work in Poland are in his book, A Secret Life: The Polish Officer, His Covert Mission, and the Price He Paid to Save His Country. Ryan became associated with Colonel Ryszard J. Kuklinski, a highly placed member of the Polish General Staff from whom the CIA received uniquely valuable intelligence about the intentions and plans of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact for more than nine years. Kuklinski’s one-man war against the Soviet Communists required Ryan to protect the officer in November 1981, when Kuklinski was about to be exposed and arrested for being a spy. Ryan and his wife, Lucille, placed themselves at considerable personal risk in order to pick up Colonel Kuklinski, his wife, and two grown sons on a remote street corner and smuggle them into the U. S. Embassy, from which another Station team carried them out of Poland the same night. The intelligence that Colonel Kuklinski provided included Soviet plans for a possible invasion of the West through Poland and the plans to suppress Solidarity by military means if necessary.
Ryan continued as Station Chief in Warsaw through the imposition of Martial Law in August, 1982. It was on his watch that a worldwide catastrophe was avoided because of the station’s adept handling of its informer, and the use of his intelligence. The Soviet fears regarding the Polish challenge to their authority were well founded, as this became the first step in the peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union.
He retired from government service in 1991, but continued to work with the agency as a contractor. In 2006, Ryan received St. Bonaventure University’s the University’s Gaudete Medal, honoring joyful service in the humble spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, in recognition of his outstanding work and service to his country for more than 35 years, including the role he played during the rise of Solidarity and the Lech Walesa years in Poland.
Frank E. “Skip” Saal, Ph.D.
1st Lieutenant (1968-1971)
Born in 1947 in Jamaica, New York Frank E. “Skip” Saal graduated from the University of Rochester in 1968. He enlisted in the U. S. Army in June 1968, and completed Basic and Advanced Infantry Training at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Selected to attend Infantry Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, he was recognized as the Academic Graduate of his OCS class and commissioned an Infantry second lieutenant in May 1969. He served several months as Training and Executive Officer for a basic training company at the U. S. Army Air Defense Center and School, Fort Bliss, Texas and was recognized for the professionalism he displayed while training young soldiers in a challenging environment.
Saal attended Jungle School at Fort Sherman in the Canal Zone (Panama) and reported for duty in Vietnam, where he was assigned to the U. S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam’ (MAC-V) Advisory Team 89. In this assignment, he was instrumental in improving the training of Vietnamese local forces, first with individual weapons and later in patrolling operations from March until October 1970. He became commander of Mobile Advisory Team III-63, Advisory Team 67 and was embedded with the People’s Self Defense Force and Popular Forces in Bu Dang Village, Duc Phong District, Duoc Long Province. Living, training and fighting alongside Vietnamese soldiers, he greatly improved these organizations’ training level and fighting capability. Saal’s success in this assignment was due in great measure to his accompanying of the Regional and Popular forces units during operations into the outlying areas of the Duc Phong District. During his service in Vietnam, he was promoted to first lieutenant.
Returning to the United States in 1971, Saal was honorably discharged from the Army, earned a Master of Science degree in Industrial Psychology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1973 and in 1976 completed a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at Pennsylvania State University.
He earned successive academic appointments in the Department of Psychology at Kansas State University, and in 1989 was appointed Head of the Psychology Department. In 1996, he accepted the position of Dean, College of Arts & Sciences, and Professor of Psychology at Mississippi State University, where he worked until 2001, when he returned to the northeast as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Psychology at St. Bonaventure University.
In each of his academic postings, Saal was supportive of the role of ROTC programs in higher education and the value of the service that cadets provide upon commissioning. At Mississippi State University, he assisted both the Air Force and Army ROTC programs with his leadership, earning the Department of the Army Commander’s Award for Public Service in 2000. At St. Bonaventure, he was an active member of the Military Science Advisory Board and a constant supporter of the University’s corps of cadets.
In 2004 Saal was named Provost at St. Bonaventure. He has authored a textbook in his field (two editions), numerous research articles in psychological journals and several chapters in edited volumes and is co-editor of an additional book. His military awards include the Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal with Two Service Stars, National Defense Service Medal and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
Dr. Victor J. Tofany, MD ’42
Victor J. Tofany was born in Rochester, New York in 1921 and learned the value of hard work and family while growing up in the depths of the Depression. He graduated from the Aquinas Institute and enrolled as a freshman at St. Bonaventure College in 1938. Inspired by the patriotism of his World War I veteran father, he joined the ROTC program and was named the Ideal Bonaventure Man. Immediately after receiving his commission and degree on May 29, 1942, Second Lieutenant Tofany was ordered to active duty. He reported to the Field Artillery Replacement Training Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and was impressed by the training activities for the fledgling airborne troops.
One of the first Bonaventure men to volunteer for this duty, he completed parachute training and attended the parachute rigger school. He reported next to the Field Artillery Test Battalion as parachute maintenance officer, where he was instrumental in the design, development and testing of the equipment required by a parachute field artillery battalion. He would later receive the Legion of Merit for the results he achieved as a pioneering airborne officer. The Test Battalion was designated as the 456th Parachute Field Artillery and assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division for deployment to Africa in preparation for the invasion of Southern Europe.
He participated in the Italian campaign and when moved to Anzio, learned that his unit would be split and that he would remain with the half of the battalion that remained as the redesignated 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion. With this organization, he supported the unique Canadian-American First Special Service Force until the capture of Rome in June 1944. The 463rd was designated to support the 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment for the invasion of southern France and, expanded to full strength and provided additional howitzers, the 463rd fought through southern France, the maritime Alps and the French Riviera. Tofany and his battalion were sent to Mourmelon, France for assignment to the 17th Airborne Division, but Allied response to the December 1944 German offensive that led to the Battle of the Bulge required the 463rd to be attached to the 101st Airborne Division. Ordered to support the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment at Bastogne, Belgium, he participated in the Christmas Day repulsion of the German Panzer Task Force, where his battery was the only one capable of providing indirect fire to any point in the sector. In January 1945 he deployed to the Alsace region and his unit was assigned to the 101st Airborne. By late 1945 he was sent home to the United States and honorably discharged.
Tofany graduated from the University of Rochester School of Medicine in 1950, trained in anesthesiology and set up a practice in Rochester. He was the chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology at St. Mary’s Hospital and served in numerous local, regional and national medical positions. He served as President of the Medical Staff at St. Mary’s from 1966-69 and was Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Medical Society of the State of New York from 1988-89. He published and presented extensively in his nascent field of expertise and received numerous professional awards, including the American Medical Association Physician’s Recognition Award. As a student at St. Bonaventure, he had been instrumental in forming the Rochester Club and he joined with others to stimulate the establishment of an alumni chapter in Rochester, which later promoted the concept of annual giving to the University. His military awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, European, African, Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Five Battle Stars and Bronze Arrowhead, Parachutist Badge with 1 Combat Star and the Presidential Unit Citation.
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