Post 86 Service Officer Paul Niche was born in Dunkirk, N.Y., and raised in Silver Creek, N.Y. Following his high school graduation in 1975, he attended St. Bonaventure University, where he enrolled in the Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC). He received his Paratrooper (also known as “Jump”) Wings at Ft. Benning, Ga., and attended summer camp at Ft. Bragg, N.C., before the start of his senior year. Commissioned as an infantry officer in May 1979, Paul returned to Ft. Benning for six months of Officer Basic School.
After a brief leave, he was assigned to Ft. Ord, Calif., where he became a platoon leader in the 31st Regiment/7th Infantry Division. His unit trained worldwide while he was stationed there, including Arctic training in Alaska (in January, no less!), South Korea for the annual joint training exercises “Team Spirit,” jungle training in Panama (in July), Australia for joint exercises with several countries and Coronado, Calif., for amphibious training.
October 1983 saw Paul return to Ft. Benning to attend the Advanced Officers School. In 1984, he was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea. He was assigned Assistant Deputy Commander of Installations. Essentially, he controlled all non-tactical buildings, motor pools, equipment and personnel. Among these was the Korean Service Corps, started during the Korean War, utilizing local people for duties such as bringing the wounded/dead from the front, mess (dining) hall duties, laundry, etc. They were the equivalent of American contractors today.
At the end of his one-year tour, Paul once again returned to Ft. Benning as the Battalion S-1 (Adjutant). At that time, the deputy commander of Benning was Brigadier General Barry McCaffrey, who is seen on various cable news channels as an analyst. In 1986, Paul again attended a military officer’s course, this time the Combined Armed Services Staff School at Ft. Leavenworth, Kans. His return to Benning put Paul as commanding officer of a basic training company.
In 1988, Paul resigned his commission, moved to Atlanta and worked testing software for two years. By 1990, Paul moved to Connecticut working for a Dun & Bradstreet firm, then moved to the NASDAQ Stock Market offices two years later. After leaving there, Paul started his own business, Fairchester Driving Service, where he heads the company today.
Paul spoke of former members of the regiment he met at Ft. Ord for the retirement of one of the battalions of the 31st Infantry Regiment. Alan Ferguson served with the regiment in Siberia in 1918. Also present were several survivors of the Bataan Death March. While speaking with Ferguson, Paul noted he saw Ferguson talking with the commanding general’s wife at the previous night’s ball. When asked why he didn’t dance with her, Ferguson replied, “In 1916, I was the Pacific Coast wrestling champ … I learned all the holds, but never learned the steps!”
Paul is married to Margaret, they have two children, Victoria and Michael. Thank you for your service, Paul!
Tom Moore is Wilton Post 86 adjutant and may be reached at legionpost86@gmail.com.