Twenty-one University of Delaware alumni who served with distinction in military conflicts-from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam-were recently inducted into the newly formed Fightin' Blue Hen Battalion Hall of Heroes.
Framed photographs of each inductee and a volume of biographical resumes are on display at Mechanical Hall, the University's ROTC headquarters on the main campus in Newark.
Among the first group of inductees chosen were Capt. Robert Kirkwood, a Revolutionary War infantryman who attended Newark Academy, and Lt. Gen John W. "Iron Mike" O'Daniel, Delaware '17, '56PhD, veteran of four wars. O'Daniel earned his nickname in World War I when a German bullet passed through the left side of his face, but didn't stop him from continuing to fight for 12 more hours.
To qualify for election to the Hall of Heroes, alumni must have received a commission from the University's ROTC program or one of its predecessors, and have one or more significant personal or professional achievements. These can include earning the Medal of Honor or other combat decoration, election to a state or national office, achieving a leadership position in an organization or corporation, recognition for state or national service or other professional contributions.
The Fightin' Blue Hen Battalion Alumni Association, incorporated in 1995, is responsible for maintaining the Hall of Heroes display. An ROTC advisory council composed of representatives from many academic disciplines assists in evaluating nominees.
The late T. Alan Bennett, Delaware '32, began his 35-year Air Force career in 1933 as one of the first 75 flying cadets assigned to Randolph Field in Texas. From 1943-46, he was commander of the China American Composite Wing, flying 96 combat missions and logging 888 combat flying hours.
The late Elmer Paul Catts, Delaware '52, held a regular commission as first lieutenant. After receiving a doctorate in parasitology, he served as a professor at the University of Delaware from 1962-1980 and from 1980-1992 at Washington State University. He was widely regarded as one of the foremost forensic entomologists, having pioneered efforts to use insects to assist in murder investigations.
Edward W. Cooch Jr. of Newark, Del., Delaware '41, who served in World War II, practices law in Wilmington, where he is senior partner of Cooch & Taylor. Active within the state, he has been president of Delaware Wild Lands and Christina Conservancy, director of the Wilmington Trust Co. and trustee of the UD Library Associates and the Historical Society of Delaware.
Ernest A. Davidson of Dover, Del., Delaware '39, received a Purple Heart and seven battle and campaign awards for his service as an anti-aircraft battalion commander in Africa and Italy and the Mediterranean theatre from 1941-46. Retiring as lieutenant colonel, Davidson first served as an engineer with the Delaware Highway Department and then as director of highways.
The late Berwyn N. Fragner, Delaware '50, whose military career spanned more than 40 years, rose to the rank of major general and commander of the 63rd Army Reserve Command, with responsibility for all Army reserve units in southern California, Arizona and Nevada. An aerospace executive, Mr. Fragner was vice president of strategic development for TRW Space & Defense Sector in California.
The late Joseph H. Harper, Delaware '22, who served 37 years with the U.S. Army, was promoted to colonel in 1942 and was assigned command of a glide infantry regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. Accounts of his experiences with this glider infantry, Sky Rider and Paratrooper!, are available in the University's Morris Library.
William E. Hart of Christian, Miss., Delaware '51, a first lieutenant, served on active duty from 1952-54. After receiving a Ph.D. in marine science, he taught at George Washington University while holding a first chair in mapping, charting and geodesy at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. Hart retired as a director of the Naval Oceanographic Office, Bathymetry Division.
Fred G. Harvey of Bethlehem, Pa., Delaware '50, rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and was graduated from the Command and General Staff College in 1969. After attending Harvard Business School in 1973, he worked for 33 years in steel plant operations and served as a senior manager at Bethlehem Steel and Steelton.
H. Stanley Hughes of Wilmington, Del., Delaware '52, was an air defense officer during the Korean conflict, serving in various reserve assignments in Delaware and Puerto Rico from 1954-84. He is owner of a consulting firm specializing in business services for mental health providers and e
xecutive director of the Delaware Psychological Association.
The late Robert Kirkwood, a distinguished Revolutionary War soldier, was born in Mill Creek (Del.) Hundred and lived with his sister in colonial Newark, probably while he attended Newark Academy, predecessor to the University of Delaware. He became a trustee of the academy in 1783.
Joseph M. Lank of Newark, Del., Delaware '52, entered military service as a distinguished military graduate upon graduation and retired as a colonel in 1980. He accepted an appointment in Delaware in 1981 and served as adjutant general with the rank of major general. Lank received many decorations for his service, including the Bronze Star and the Vietnam Service and Campaign medals.
Joseph V. Marra of Wilmington, Del., Delaware '54, served on active duty from 1954-59 and on reserve duty for 22 years. After receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 1959, he worked as a research scientist at Hercules until 1989. Currently, he is a senior research associate at AET Co.
Jerome D. Niles Jr. of Heathsville, Va., Delaware '39, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Coast Artillery Corps, U.S. Army, serving on a searchlight battery along the Eastern seaboard. In 1942, he was sent to Iceland, later serving in New Guinea, the Philippines and Japan. Retiring as a brigadier general, he worked in the area of public health and was regional administrator of maternal and child health and crippled children's services for Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., when he retired.
The late John W. "Iron Mike" O'Daniel, Delaware '17, '56PhD (honorary), serving more than 40 years in the U.S. Army, in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
Robert H. Papy of Cape Coral, Fla., Delaware '47, who was the first distinguished military student from UD, served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II from 1942-1945, and received a Bronze Star, campaign ribbon with three battle stars and both presidential and unit citations. He served in various management positions with Sears until his retirement in 1987.
Arthur R. Vande Poele of Fenwick Island, Del., Delaware '54, who was commissioned a second lieutenant upon graduation, served with the First Cavalry Division in Japan. Joining the Delaware Army National Guard in 1956, he served in various positions, rising to command the 198th Signal Battalion until 1975. At that time, he was promoted to colonel and held various training positions with the 261st Signal Command in Dover, Del., becoming chief of staff in 1980.
Kenneth L. Rieth of Atlantic City, N.J., Delaware '53, who played football at UD under coaches Bill Murray and Dave Nelson, received a commission in artillery and served in Alaska from 1954-56. From 1982 to 1990, he was deputy adjutant general of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
Jules J. Schwartz of Belmont, Mass., Delaware '53, served from 1953-57 in U.S. and Germany. A graduate of the Command and General Staff College, he retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1982. After receiving a doctorate in business administration in 1973 from Harvard Business School, Schwartz has taught management and engineering at Boston University.
Robert R. Smith of Pisgah Forest, N.C., Delaware '51, who graduated from Command and General Staff College in 1976, rose to the rank of colonel. He was employed by the DuPont Co. from 1951-1990, where he served in a variety of positions.
Walter F. Williams Jr. of Bethlehem, Pa., Delaware '51, who served as a first lieutenant in Korea, received a Bronze Star Medal. He joined Bethlehem Steel, working for that company for 42-1/2 years and rising to the position of chairman, president and chief executive officer in 1986.
Lewis W. Wright of Fairfax, Va., Delaware '53, served 28 years on active duty, including battalion commander in Vietnam from 1969-70; comptroller of the Army in the Pentagon from 1970-73; Department of the Army inspector general in the Pentagon from 1973-76; Army Materiel Command, inspector general, from 1976-79; and Army Materiel Command, director of programs from 1979-81. He was program manager at National Systems Management Corp. from 1981-1993.
For more information about the Hall of Heroes, contact Lt. Col. Paul Thorson, chairperson of military science at UD, telephone (302) 831-1763.