2013 ROTC Hall of Fame Inductees
Capt. Gerardus A. Backhaus, Class of 1965
Born in Nazi-occupied Holland in 1942, Gerardus A. Backhaus immigrated to the United States with his family in the 1950s. He graduated from high school in Eldred, Pa., and attended St. Bonaventure University on an academic scholarship.
Joining the Army ROTC program, he continued his studies and obtained a pilot’s license through instruction at an airstrip adjacent to the St. Bonaventure Golf Course.
Upon graduation in 1965, Backhaus was commissioned a Field Artillery second lieutenant in the United States Army Reserve and completed officers’ training. In January 1966, he was called to active duty for three years.
He completed the Officer Fixed Wing Aviator Course and reported to the Republic of South Vietnam as a fixed wing pilot in June 1967. Assigned to the 1st Aviation Brigade, he subsequently was ordered to Pleiku in the II Corps area and assigned to the 219th Aviation Company.
He began flying missions as the solo pilot in a two-seat Cessna O-1G “Bird Dog” Forward Air Controller aircraft in and around Da Nang, Kontum and Qui Nhon, where he often supported isolated U.S. Special Forces teams near their remote camps.
In early 1968, Backhaus was transferred to the 203rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company, but continued to fly the Bird Dog as a spotter for artillery and in support of ground combat units.
During a Feb. 2, 1968, mission in support of U.S. Military Assistance Command-Vietnam (MACV) forces attached to a Vietnamese regional force company operating north of Qui Nhon in the hamlet of Binh Than, Backhaus distinguished himself “for heroism while participating in aerial flight evidenced by voluntary actions above and beyond the call of duty.”
When the company came under heavy automatic and small weapons fire, Backhaus made repeated low level passes over the area to draw fire away from the ground troops and to pinpoint the enemy positions, into which he fired two white phosphorus rockets.
This allowed the friendly troops to disengage, but when he saw the enemy setting up a machine gun, Backhaus took further independent action. For his actions that day, Backhaus was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Having been promoted to captain, Backhaus returned to the United States after one year in Vietnam and completed the pilot instructor course at the U.S. Army Aviation School before being honorably discharged.
In addition to the Distinguished Flying Cross, Backhaus received the Air Medal with 27 Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and the Army Aviator Badge.
He continued to fly as a commercial pilot for several years with TWA, then worked in the insurance industry before attending the New York University School of Law. Following admission to the state Bar, he returned to Olean, where he practiced law as a member of the firm Hornburg, Diggs, and Marks, P.C. He eventually became a partner in the firm and remained with his friends and colleagues as it evolved.
In addition to his private practice, Backhaus served for several years as an assistant district attorney in Cattaraugus County, and as the attorney for the village of Allegany. He was dedicated to the representation of children in Family Court and retired from Backhaus & Simon, P.C. in 2008. He and his wife then moved to Texas, where he passed away in 2010 following a short battle with cancer, leaving behind his wife, Patricia, and four children.
Col. Diane L. (Meserve) Dunn, Houghton College Class of 1988
Diane L. Dunn graduated in 1988 from Houghton College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.
She was also a cadet in the St. Bonaventure University Seneca Battalion Army ROTC program, through which she was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Adjutant General Corps.
Dunn joined the Maine Army National Guard and served in the 52nd Troop Command as an assistant S1. In 1989, she was assigned to the 121st Public Affairs Detachment as the community relations officer and later the broadcast officer.
In 1992, she joined the 286th Petroleum Supply Battalion, where she served as the S1 and HHD commander. In 1995, she was assigned to the 52nd Troop Command as an Assistant S1 and later as the S1.
In 1997, Dunn transitioned to Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) status and was assigned to the 286th Petroleum Supply Battalion, where she served as the training officer, S2/3 and later as the executive officer.
She began a three-year assignment as an assistant professor of Military Science at the University of Maine in 2002, after which she returned to drilling Guardsman status and became branch chief of the Maine State Joint Force Headquarters.
After successful command of the 240th Regional Training Institute, Maine Army National Guard, from January 2006 to May 2007, she was selected for and commanded the 286th Combat Service Support Battalion from May 2007 until March 2010.
During her tenure as a battalion commander, she was mobilized and commanded Task Force Dirigo of Joint Sustainment Command-Afghanistan, which conducted sustainment operations for coalition forces in Regional Command South, Kandahar, Afghanistan, from January through December 2009.
The first female to command a Maine National Guard battalion in combat, Dunn’s unit supported the first Afghan buildup by transporting equipment, supplies and building materials to numerous forward operating bases, including Forward Operating Base Leatherneck, Helmand province, in support of the U.S. Marines.
Dunn served next as the J716 Branch Chief, U.S. Northern Command, in Colorado Springs, Col., for one year before returning to become the Pre-mobilization Training and Assistance Element Officer in Charge of the Maine Army National Guard.
She is currently assigned as the Region 1 Vigilant Guard Exercise Planner. Having branch transferred to the Quartermaster Corps in 1994, she transitioned to the Logistics branch in 2008 and was selected by the Department of the Army for promotion to colonel in November 2011. In addition to her career as an Army officer, she has been a small business owner.
Dunn holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Maine and a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College.
Her awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M Device, NATO Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Components Overseas Training Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
She is also an inducted member of the Transportation Honorable Order of St. Christopher.
A native Mainer, she and her husband, Jim, have three children, Kayla, Kristen and Marcus, and a granddaughter, Aaliyah.
2nd Lt. K. James Evans, Ph.D., Grove City College Class of 1970
K. James Evans, Ph.D., was raised in New Kensington, Pa., and attended Grove City College on an Air Force ROTC scholarship. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1970.
His initial assignment was to Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., where he served as a Minuteman 1 Weapon System Missile Launch Officer for the in the 44th Strategic Missile Wing, 67th Strategic Missile Squadron.
Evans served in this position for more than two years before he was honorably discharged in December of 1972 in the midst of the Vietnam War military drawdown. While at Ellsworth Air Force Base he completed his master’s degree in education from South Dakota State University.
Upon leaving military service, Evans moved to Pittsburgh, where he began doctoral studies at the University of Pittsburgh. While at the University of Pittsburgh, he served as a graduate assistant in the Office of Student Activities from 1973-1974, beginning a distinguished career in higher education student affairs.
In August 1974, he accepted the position of assistant director of residence life at Duquesne University and in August 1976 he was named the dean of students at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford (UPB), where he has served ever since.
Evans completed his Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh in 1980. In 1994, Evans’ title was changed to vice president and dean of student affairs. His areas of responsibilities in this position include Admissions, Career Services, Community Engagement, Counseling Services, Financial Aid, Greek Life, Health Services, Judicial Affairs, New Student Orientation, Residential Life, Housing and Student Activities.
Among Evans’ significant accomplishments in his career at UPB was his leadership role in establishing a cross-enrollment agreement with St. Bonaventure, which opened the door for UPB students to take Army ROTC courses at St. Bonaventure and sign contracts with the U.S. Army for future service as Army Officers.
His professionalism and commitment were integral to an agreement that the presidents of the two institutions and Brigadier General Cecil Adams signed in 1980, which formalized the pathway to commissioned service as Army officers that Evans had envisioned.
Since then, Evans has served as the liaison officer for the Army ROTC program at UPB. He has provided unparalleled support, mentorship and encouragement to hundreds of UPB cadets who have enrolled in ROTC classes.
His legacy is realized in the service, accomplishments and sacrifice of the eighteen UPB students who have been commissioned as U.S. Army officers during this time period.
Evans has not limited his leadership and mentoring talents to one service, as he was also selected among a core of higher education administrators to lead two “Semester at Sea” programs for the Institute of Shipboard Education.
In this capacity, Evans’ responsibilities included serving as executive dean for more than 1,500 undergraduate students from several hundred colleges and universities during a 15-week semester travelling around the world by ship.
He also has accumulated a remarkable record of service to his community. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the United Way of the Bradford Area, as well as an elected member of the Bradford City Council.
Additionally, he has completed more than nine years of service on the Board of Representatives for Penn State Public Broadcasting (WPSU), where he chaired the Education Committee. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association of Student Personnel Administrators.
Evans is married to Dr. Lisa Fiorentino, who serves as the director of the Nursing and Radiological Science Program at UPB.
2012 ROTC Hall of Fame Inductees
Lt. Col. George W. Burkley, Class of 1960
Retired Lieutenant Colonel George W. Burkley was the cadet colonel of the St. Bonaventure University Army ROTC Battalion and a Distinguished Military Graduate of the University in 1960. On June 5, 1960, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Army Reserve, and three days later he accepted a regular commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.
He completed the Basic Officers Course and Basic Flight Training before receiving additional instruction as a Marine aviator. In 1965, Burkley reported to Vietnam, where he served a one-year tour as an F4 Phantom pilot until 1966.
Burkley returned to the United States and graduated from the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School. He worked for two years as an advanced weapons evaluator at the Patuxent River Naval Test Center, Md., before he was assigned to an all-weather attack squadron for a second tour in Vietnam, serving as an A6 Intruder pilot from 1969 to 1970.
He earned a master's degree from American University and was assigned as an analyst in the Department of Defense Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation. His final assignment was with the Station Operations and Maintenance Squadron (SOMS) at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in California. During his 26-year career, he logged thousands of training combat and test hours in numerous Marine Corps aircraft before retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1986.
In 1991, Burkley joined the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary as a volunteer and continues to serve as a pilot for the Coast Guard. Between 2007 and 2008, he served as the District Commodore for District 14 Coast Guard Auxiliary and currently is Commander 114 for the Coast Guard Auxiliary (Hawaii, Guam and Saipan).
His awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star with Combat V Device, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal (Strike/Flight) with 17 Stars, Vietnam Service Medal with Four Service Stars, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Republic of Vietnam Unit Citation (First Class) with Palm, and Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm.
Col. James M. Mis, Class of 1986
James M. Mis enrolled in the Army ROTC program as a St. Bonaventure University freshman in 1982. Following his sophomore year, he graduated from the U.S. Army Airborne School and the next year, completed Ranger School and earned the Ranger Tab.
He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in biology in 1986 and received a commission as an Infantry second lieutenant. He was the Platoon Honor Graduate of his Infantry Officer Basic Course and completed the Mortar Platoon Leaders Course.
In 1987, Mis was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), where he served as a Rifle Platoon Leader, Anti-Armor Platoon Leader and Scout Platoon Leader. After a six-month tour to the Sinai as part of the Multinational Force & Observers, he was selected as a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment (Airborne), with whom he served as a Ranger Platoon Leader and Company Executive Officer in the 1st Ranger Battalion.
He participated in the combat parachute jump into Panama during Operation Just Cause in December 1989. Mis was assessed, selected and graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course in 1991 and was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) as commander of Operational Detachment – Alpha 331 and later as Battalion S3.
Mis remained at Fort Bragg, N.C., as aide-de-camp to the Deputy Commanding General, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), before taking command of a Special Forces company and serving as executive officer of a Special Forces battalion.
In July 2000, he returned to JSOC and served in several positions in the J5 and J7 Directorates, including two assignments in Afghanistan, where he served first as Operations Officer, J5 and later as Deputy Director, J5.
He was the Garrison Commander of Fort AP Hill, Va., from July 2004 to July 2006, when he returned to the Special Operations community as Chief of the Joint Operations Division, Special Operations Command-South (SOCSOUTH).
After commanding SOCSOUTH-Paraguay from July 2007 to December 2008, he returned to Headquarters SOCSOUTH at MacDill Air Force Base, where he served as Chief of Operations until June 2009. In July 2009, Mis assumed command of the Asymmetric Warfare Group at Fort Meade, Maryland. He began his current assignment as Director of Operations J5, SOCCENT in August 2001 and is responsible for planning special operations throughout the USCENTCOM area of responsibility.
Mis holds master’s degrees in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College and in strategic studies from the Marine Corps War College.
His awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (two awards), Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal (three awards), Army Achievement Medal (three awards), National Defense Service Medal (two awards), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with Oak Leaf and Arrowhead, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Service Star, Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terror Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Multi-National Force and Observers Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award with two Oak Leaf Clusters Army Superior Unit Award, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Air Assault Badge and the Master Parachutist Badge with combat jump star. In 1994, he received the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award.
He is married to the former Mary Gannon, who also graduated from and received a commission through St. Bonaventure Army ROTC in 1987. They have three children: James, Corrine and Meghan.
Col. Terrence L. Roche, Clas of 1960
Retired Colonel Terrence L. Roche is a native of Callicoon, N.Y. He graduated cum laude from St. Bonaventure University in 1960 with a bachelor of business administration degree.
A Distinguished Military Graduate of the Army ROTC program, he was selected as the Ideal Bonaventure Man and received several other awards in addition to a Regular Army commission in the Field Artillery. After attending the Field Artillery Officers Basic Course at Fort Sill, Okla., and the Nike Universal Officers Orientation course at Fort Bliss, Texas, he reported to his first duty assignment as Fire Control Platoon Leader, A Battery, 2nd Missile Battalion (Nike Hercules), 62nd Artillery, in Buffalo.
He was assigned to U.S. Army in Paris, France, in June 1963 and served first as executive officer and then as headquarters company commander. In August 1966, he received orders to proceed to Vietnam where he served as assistant S3 and commander, HHB, 1st Infantry Division Artillery.
Upon returning to CONUS, he attended the Artillery Officers Advanced Course. From July 1968 to July 1969, he served as an instructor in the U.S. Air Force Air Ground Operations School at Eglin Air Force Base, Fl. After graduating from the Command and General Staff College in June 1970, he remained at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., as Assistant DPCA until January 1971, when he reported to the British Staff College.
He served as G3 training officer and division air defense officer with the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea from March 1972 until April 1973.
He returned to CONUS and was assigned to the Enlisted Personnel Directorate, MILPERCEN, where he served as Chief, TRADOC Section, CONUS Installations Branch, and later as Chief of the Distribution Operations Center. In March 1976, he was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army as Executive Officer to the Deputy Director of the Army Staff for Executive Services and White House Liaison.
From May 1977 through November 1978, he commanded the 2nd Basic Combat Training Battalion, 1st ADA Brigade, Fort Bliss, Texas. Following command, he served successively as Chief, How-To-Fight Team, Chief, Training Literature Division and Chief, Doctrine Division, U.S. Army Air Defense School.
Upon graduating from the Air War College in 1981, he returned to Europe for the third time where he served first as Chief, Morale and Community Support Division, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel, and then as Chief, Investigations and Assistance Division, Office of the Inspector General, Headquarters, U.S. Army, Europe.
Roche assumed command of Fort Drum, N.Y., in July 1984 and when the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) was activated in December 1984, became Garrison Commander of Fort Drum. On July 31, 1986, he retired from active duty. He assumed responsibilities as Executive Director, Fort Drum Steering Council, in August 1986.
On Oct. 1, 1986, Roche assumed the duties of Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Watertown Chamber of Commerce and retired from the Chamber in January 1999. He holds master’s degrees in management and human relations from Webster College.
His military awards include the Legion of Merit (two awards) Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal (four awards), Army Commendation Medal (four awards), Air Force Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with two Service Stars, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (four awards), Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal and General Staff Identification Badge.
Mr. Roche resides in Carthage, N.Y., with his wife Maria, ’61. They have three daughters: Brienne (B.A. ’87, M.A. ’90), Heather and Kelly.