Meals on Wheels salutes all veterans who have fought for our freedoms. As an organization, we are proud to serve and care for those who have served our country by being there with a hot meal five days a week. And we are thankful to our many volunteers who are veterans and who give of their time to take care of the ill, elderly and homebound in our community.
One of those veteran/volunteers is Fred McConville, who served as an officer in the U.S. Army for 24 years including two tours in Vietnam, and has also served as a Meals on Wheels volunteer for more than 20 years. Fred was born in Rhode Island and studied engineering at the University of Rhode Island where he enrolled in ROTC. That experience led to his acceptance as an aviation cadet in the U.S. Air Force where he trained to be a navigator. However, vision problems prevented him from continuing with the pilot program. Not to be deterred, he decided to turn his sights toward the Army and in 1955 applied for and won a competitive appointment to West Point. Following graduation, he married his wife Dot and spent the next three years in Germany with an artillery battalion. Fred says it was an exciting time and a great way to start his military career. After this, he took a post back at West Point and eventually was sent to Vietnam where he joined the 1st Cavalry Division working in operations near the Cambodian border and as an intelligence officer.
Fred spent the next year at a military school in Australia before being sent back to Vietnam. That was the summer of 1972. Most of the U.S. forces had been withdrawn and peace talks were underway. Fred was assigned to a district near the border with North Vietnam and in February 1973 was selected to serve on the cease fire commission overseeing the final withdrawal of U.S. forces. He arranged and attended meetings between Saigon, Hanoi, the Vietcong and the U.S. and wrote minutes detailing the talks that were sent up the chain of command - all the way to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger!
Returning stateside, he rejoined the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood in Texas for four years and commanded the artillery battalion he served with in Vietnam. His next assignment found him back in Rhode Island at the Naval War College before heading to Washington D.C. There, he planned and conducted a field test of an important new artillery weapon and was selected to be the Deputy to and then the Secretary of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. While thoroughly enjoying this work, he had long thought of studying law and in 1981 enrolled at Harvard Law School. At 50 years old, Fred joined a corporate law firm where he continued his legal career until retiring in 2011.
Thank you Fred for your distinguished military career and your service to our country.
We wish you and all our veterans a Happy Veterans Day!
Photos from left to right: Fred McConville as a child in Rhode Island; as a cadet at West Point; as an Army officer; and as a Meals on Wheels volunteer.