top of page

The Pathfinder Hall Of Fame

The following Pathfinders have been voted in by the NPA membership after careful consideration of their contribution to the legacy of the US Army Pathfinders. Voting is held every 2 years.

Colonel (Retired)  Richard D. Gillem 

Inducted in 2015.

Selected to become the first commander of 11th Pathfinder Company, 11th Air Assault Division.  Organized & trained the 11th Pathfinder Company.  Developed tactics, techniques, procedures for Pathfinder operations in the air mobile/air assault concept.  Worked with various companies in developing Pathfinder navigational equipment for day & night operations.  Commanded 11th Pathfinder Company, 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam during 1st year of deployment which includes the IA Drang Valley battle. He also led the first combat jump of Pathfinders in Vietnam on 24 December 1965.

Returned to Ft. Benning in 1966 and commanded The Pathfinder School. Wrote the POI and FM 57-38 Pathfinder Operations.  Served a second tour of duty in Vietnam. Retired in the rank of Colonel in 1987 after 30 years of Army service. Spent 24 years in defense industry working on joint forces training projects.  Graduate of Army War College with Master of Science degree.  He has 250 military parachute jumps to include one combat jump.

His awards include The Combat Infantry Badge, Expert Infantry Badge, Ranger Tab, Master Parachutist Badge, Pathfinder Torch, 11th Air Assault Badge, Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star(4) Legion of Merit(2), Air Medal(3), Meritorious Service Medal(3), Army Commendation Medal(2), National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Order of St. Maurice, General Staff Identification Badge, Vietnamese Master Parachute Badge, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/palm(3), Vietnam Honor Medal.

He served as The National Pathfinder Association Vice President from 2011 to 2015.  He was instrumental in the formation of the 11th Pathfinder Company Association. He has been actively involved in preserving and promoting US Army Pathfinder history for over 30 years.  He has been a regular guest speaker at Pathfinder School graduations for more than 20 years. The uniform he wore in Vietnam is on display at The National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, GA.

Colonel Robert L. Howard

Inducted in 2015. Medal of Honor Recipient for actions while serving in Vietnam.  Former Commander of The US Army Pathfinder School.  The current Army Pathfinder School building at Fort Benning, GA was dedicated in Colonel Howard's name in 2015.  His awards include The Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star with V plus 3 oak leaf clusters, Legion of Merit(4), Purple Heart(7), Air Medal with V and numeral 3, Army Commendation Medal with V and 6 oak leaf clusters, Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Master Parachutist Badge, Pathfinder Torch, Air Assault badge, Aircrew badge.

LTC Alfred W. Rascon

Inducted in 2015 by virtue of his bravery and added legacy to memory of The US Army Pathfinders. Medal of Honor Recipient for actions in Vietnam while serving with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. His awards include The Silver Star, Bronze Star with Valor, Purple Heart(2), Air Medal, Army Commendation medal with Valor and 2 oak leaf clusters, Combat Infantry Badge, Combat Medic Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Pathfinder Torch.

CSM Jon R. Cavaiani


Inducted in 2015 by virtue of his bravery and added legacy to the memory of The US Army Pathfinders. Medal of Honor Recipient for actions in while serving in Vietnam with Special Forces.  His awards include The Bronze Star (with V) and 1 oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart(2), Prisoner of War Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Special Forces Tab, Master Parachutist Badge, Pathfinder Torch. 

MSG Ronald E. Rosser


Inducted in 2015 by virtue of his bravery and added legacy to the memory of The US Army Pathfinders.  Medal of Honor Recipient for actions while serving in The Korean War.  MSG Rosser is a Life member of the NPA.  His awards include The Combat Infantry Badge,  Master Parachutist badge,  The Air Assault badge and The Pathfinder Torch.

LTG James Maurice Gavin


Inducted in 2013. Former Commanding General of The 82nd Airborne Division during World War II.  Due to after action analysis from Sicily he worked with CPT John Norton along with 509th to develop a Pathfinder program and was instrumental in getting Army command to accept the idea for all airborne units.  He was one of the first advocates of the Pathfinder concept. Combat Infantry Badge, Master Parachute Badge w/4 combat stars, Distinguished Service Cross(2), Distinguished Service Medal, Purple Heart, Silver Star(2), British Distinguished Service Order, Dutch Order of Orange-Nassau, Belgian Croix de Guerre, French Croix de Guerre, Russian Order of Alexander, WWII Victory Medal, Presidential Unit Citation.



LTG John "Jack" Norton

Inducted in 2013.  Inducted based upon his involvement in development of Pathfinder concept with James "Jim" Gavin and directed the training, doctrine, tactical employment of the 82nd Pathfinders during World War II. The first U.S. Pathfinder teams were organized in the 82nd Airborne Division at Biscari Airfield in Sicily by Captain John Norton and Lt. Col. Joel Crouch, U.S. Army Air Corps. Shortly thereafter, these teams performed flawlessly in the highly successful night airborne reinforcement of the Salerno beachhead on the mainland of Italy on 13 and 14 September 1943. The 505th PIR’s Pathfinders led the way for that unit’s successful drop the next night. Captain Norton was one of The Pathfinder team jumpmasters. He was the former Commanding General of The First Cavalry Division in Vietnam 1966-1967.  His experience and trust in the Pathfinder concept was instrumental to their effective use in the First Cavalry Division during Vietnam which included numerous combat jumps.  His awards include Master Combat Infantry Badge, Master Parachute Badge w/4 combat stars, Pathfinder Badge, Basic Aviation Pilot Badge, Distinguished Service Medal(3), Silver Star, Legion of Merit(3), Bronze Star(2), Air Medal(9), Army Commendation medal, Belgian Croix de Guerre, French Croix de Guerre, Presidential Unit Citation, WWII Victory Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal. He is also in the Army Aviation Hall of Fame

LTC Frank L. Lillyman


Inducted in 2013.  First Commander of the 101st Airborne Pathfinders during World War II.  The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Captain (Infantry) Frank L. Lillyman (ASN: 0-368010), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Commanding Officer, 101st Pathfinder Company (Provisional), 502d Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, in action against enemy forces on 6 June 1944, in France. Riding in the leading plane of the Pathfinder Element, Captain Lillyman was one of the first Allied soldiers to make a parachute jump in the Airborne assault on the Normandy, France. Although under incessant enemy fire from the time he landed, Captain Lillyman assembled his Pathfinder Group, located the drop zones and directed the setting up and operation of homing devices for the guiding of the following waves of parachute troop planes to the correct drop zones. When attacked by the enemy forces Captain Lillyman led his men in the successful defense of this vital area and provided cover for the landing of the follow-up wave of parachute troops. Captain Lillyman's inspiring leadership, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 101st Airborne Division, and the United States Army.  Awarded The Distinguished Service Cross for his actions on D-Day while serving as the Pathfinder commander. Other awards include The Combat Infantry Badge,  Master Parachutist Badge, Pathfinder Torch. 

1LT Reed Pelfrey

Inducted in 2013. Former 502nd PIR 101st Airborne Pathfinder during Normandy.  He jumped from the very first plane in the Normandy invasion. 1LT Pelfrey was a life member of The NPA and attended past reunions.  He was a volunteer at The Curahee Military Museum where he shared his experiences with younger generations. His awards include The Bronze Star,  Combat Infantry Badge, The Airborne Badge, Pathfinder Torch.

SGT James E. "Jake" McNiece

Inducted in 2013.  He led the 101st Airborne Pathfinder team during the siege of Bastogne and helped resupply the surrounded 101st Airborne Division.   He also made a combat jump as a Pathfinder at Prum Germany to resupply General Patton's troops. His exploits as a Pathfinder were written about in the book  The Filthy Thirteen.  His awards include The Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Badge, The Airborne Badge, Pathfinder Torch.

bottom of page