Listed below are seven of Niagara University's most distinguished veterans. These men and women made outstanding achievements in their military careers.
2nd Lt. John Bobo, '65
John Paul Bobo was born on Feb. 14, 1943, in Niagara Falls, N.Y. He attended Bishop Duffy High School where he is distinguished as an honored alumnus. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve on May 28, 1965,, while attending Niagara University. He received a B.A. in history from Niagara in June 1965 and was commissioned as a Marine Corps Reserve second lieutenant on Dec. 17, 1965.
Medal of Honor citation
The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to
SECOND LIEUTENANT JOHN P. BOBO
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
- For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Weapons Platoon Commander, Company I, Third Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division, in Quang Tri Province, Republic of Vietnam, on 30 March 1967. Company I was establishing night ambush sites when the command group was attacked by a reinforced North Vietnamese company supported by heavy automatic weapons and mortar fire. Lieutenant Bobo immediately organized a hasty defense and moved from position to position encouraging the outnumbered Marines despite the murderous enemy fire. Recovering a rocket launcher from among the friendly casualties, he organized a new launcher team and directed its fire into the enemy machine gun position. When an exploding enemy mortar round severed Lieutenant Bobo's right leg below the knee, he refused to be evacuated and insisted upon being placed in a firing position to cover the movement of the command group to a better location. With a web belt around his leg serving as tourniquet and with his leg jammed into the dirt to curtail the bleeding, he remained in this position and delivered devastating fire into the ranks of the enemy attempting to overrun the Marines. Lieutenant Bobo was mortally wounded while firing his weapon into the mainpoint of the enemy attack but his valiant spirit inspired his men to heroic efforts, and his tenacious stand enabled the command group to gain a protective position where it repulsed the enemy onslaught. Lieutenant Bobo's superb leadership, dauntless courage, and bold initiative reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Major General William Joseph ("Wild Bill") Donovan
William Joseph Donovan attended St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute and Niagara University before starring on the football team at Columbia University. On the field, he earned the nickname "Wild Bill," which would remain with him for the rest of his life. Donovan graduated from Columbia in 1905 and was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity,as well as the Knights of Malta.
During World War I, Maj. Donovan organized and led the first battalion of the 165th Regiment of the 42nd Division, the federalized designation of the famed 69th New York Volunteers, (the "Fighting 69th"). For his service near Landres-et-St. Georges, France, in October 1918, he received the Medal of Honor.
Medal of Honor citation
The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
WILLIAM JOSEPH “WILD BILL” DONOVAN
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Lieutenant Colonel (Infantry) William Joseph “Wild Bill” Donovan (ASN: 0-102383), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 14 and 15 October 1918, while serving as Commanding Officer, 165th Infantry, 42d Division, American Expeditionary Forces, in action at Landres-et-St. Georges, France. Lieutenant Colonel Donovan personally led the assaulting wave in an attack upon a very strongly organized position, and when our troops were suffering heavy casualties he encouraged all near him by his example, moving among his men in exposed positions, reorganizing decimated platoons, and accompanying them forward in attacks. When he was wounded in the leg by machine-gun bullets, he refused to be evacuated and continued with his unit until it withdrew to a less exposed position.
Col. Peggy Miller, '84
The impact Col. Peggy Miller has had on the lives of thousands of veterans and active military cannot be measured. Although Col. Miller is employed by the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Canandaigua, N.Y., her accomplishments while in uniform serving in the U.S. Army, both overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan and domestically are what have earned her the most honorable of awards during her career. Col. Miller's impact is on both the individuals she has served directly as well as improvements she made to the processes she was responsible for.
Rev. Lt. Thomas Conway, '30
Fr. Conway was born on April 5, 1908, in Waterbury, Conn. He was the oldest of three children born to Irish immigrants, Thomas F. and Margaret (Meade). Fr. Conway attended Lasalette Junior Seminary, in Hartford, Conn. In 1928, he enrolled at Niagara University and received an A.B. in 1930. On June 8, 1931, Conway enrolled in Our Lady of Angels Seminary on the campus of Niagara University.
On July 31, 1945, Fr. Conway, then a 37-year-old Navy Chaplain, was sleeping soundly on board the USS Indianapolis, a heavy cruiser. At 12:14 a.m., the first torpedo from the Japanese submarine, I-58, blew away the bow of the ship. An instant later, the second struck near midship on the starboard side, the resulting explosion split the ship to the keel, knocking out all electric power. Within 12 minutes, the unescorted cruiser slipped beneath the surface of the Philippine Sea, midway between Guam and Leyte Gulf.
Of 1,196 men onboard, approximately 900 men made it into the water. Few life rafts were released; the majority of the survivors wore the standard kapok life jacket and life belts. The ship was never missed, and by the time the survivors were spotted by accident four days later, only 316 men were still alive. For three nights Fr. Conway, a Catholic priest, swam to the aid of his shipmates, reassuring the increasingly dehydrated and delirious men with prayers until he himself expired, the last Catholic chaplain to die in WWII. (Bill Milhomme)
General Walter Kross
General Walter Kross is a retired United States Air Force four-star general who served as Commander in Chief, U.S. Transportation Command/Commander, Air Mobility Command (USCINCTRANS/COMAMC), from 1996 to 1998.
After receiving his bachelor of science degree in chemistry, Niagara University, Kross was commissioned through Officer Training School in December 1964. His early career combined both fighter and airlift experience as he flew 157 F-4 combat missions, 100 over North Vietnam. He later transitioned to airlift, then senior executive and congressional pilot support. He was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force for six years, part of that time in the Chief's Staff Group. He has served as commander of a C-5 wing, as director of operations and logistics for all defense transportation requirements in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and as director of operations for Air Force headquarters. Additionally, Kross was commander of the provisional force in charge of standing up Air Mobility Command, as well as its first vice commander. He was also commander of 15th Air Force, Travis Air Force Base, Calif., then director, Joint Staff, Washington, D.C..
Rear Admiral Louis Iasiello
Rear Admiral Iasiello is an alumnus of St. Bonaventure University. He has earned graduate degrees from Niagara University (Education), the Washington Theological Union (Divinity), Salve Regina College (International Relations), and the Naval War College (National Security and Strategic Studies), and is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government's Senior Managers in Government Program, Harvard University. He has also earned a Ph.D. (Humanities) from Salve Regina College. Iasiello has been published in numerous periodicals and books, most recently in the Naval War College Review (Summer/Fall 04): Jus Post Bellum: Moral Obligations of the Victors of War.
Commissioned as a Navy Chaplain Lieutenant (Junior Grade) in the Naval Reserves in 1981, Iasiello was recalled to active duty July 1983. His active duty assignments include: Naval Air Station, Memphis (83-85); U.S. Coast Guard, Kodiak, Alaska (85-86); USS Ranger (CV-61) deployed in Operation Earnest Will, and in other deployments to Korea and the Persian Gulf (86-87); Second Marine Division; (8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Regiment, Marine Forces Panama) including two deployments to Norway, Operation Just Cause, Panama, and with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable [MEU SOC] (87-90).
Other assignments include: Naval War College Command and Staff, distinguished military graduate (90-91); United States Naval Academy, staff and faculty (91-94); Joint Task Force 160 (Cuba and Haiti); Armed Forces Staff College (94); Assistant Fleet Chaplain, U.S. Atlantic Fleet and Deputy Chaplain, U.S. Atlantic Command (94-97); Director for Operational Ministry, Atlantic Fleet (97-98); and Director, Naval Chaplains School (98-00). After selection to flag rank, Rear Adm. Iasiello became the first Chaplain Corps flag officer to be appointed Chaplain of the United States Marine Corps (00-03). The Senate confirmed his appointment as the 23rd Chief of Navy Chaplains, July 2003. As the Chief of Chaplains, he is the community leader for more than 2,400 active and reserve chaplains and Religious Program Specialists serving the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Other duties include membership on the Presbyteral Council of the Archdiocese for the Military Services (since 1994), the Board of Trustees of Saint Bonaventure University (since 2000), the Board of Directors of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, and the Board of Advisors for the Institute on Religion and Public Policy (2004). He delivered the annual Henry Hofheimer Lecture to the students, staff and faculty of the Joint Forces Staff College and was the keynote speaker at the 2005 Annual Ethics Conference at the Naval War College.
CSM Fred Kirtchen, '80
At Niagara, Kirtchen’s energy and commitment to service touched everyone on campus. In addition to his work in the ROTC program, Kirtchen trained the lifeguards for the pool, served as the adviser for the martial arts and orienteering clubs, and coached ROTC’s championship intramural flag football team. His charismatic leadership inspired scores of cadets during his tour of duty and many of them have risen to the highest levels of their careers, both in and out of the military.
Prior to Niagara, Kirtchen served for 10 years in Army Special Forces units, completing two tours of duty in Vietnam. He was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor and the Purple Heart. Additionally, he served as a drill instructor and was promoted to master sergeant ahead of his peers. After leaving Niagara, he served as first sergeant and sergeant major in the Berlin Brigade, and completed his military career as the garrison sergeant major at Fort Lewis, Wash.
The Class of 1980 has created a scholarship in his name to help veterans whose benefits do not cover 100 percent of their education at Niagara University.