Army Aviation Hall of Fame 1977 Induction
Brigadier General Robert Matheu Leich received a commission in the Field Artillery upon completion of ROTC training at Yale University in 1928, and was called to active duty in 1941. Captain Leich became a member of the "Class Before Class One" which established the basis for organic Army Aviation. When the Department of Air Training was established at the Field Artillery School, Captain Leich became Army Aviation's first Engineering (Maintenance) Officer. The initial maintenance training programs for Army Liaison Pilots and mechanics were conceived and inaugurated under his guidance and leadership.
On leaving Fort Sill, OK, Major Leich became the first Army Aviator to serve in the Pentagon where he was instrumental in establishing a logistical support system for Army Aviation. In this assignment, he served as the only Army Aviator - then, Liaison Pilot - on duty in the Pentagon for an extended period.
He next served as Artillery Air Officer (Army Air Officer ) with General William H. Simpson's Ninth U.S. Army in England, France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany. As Ninth Army Air Officer he ably demonstrated and promoted the value of organic aviation to the ground forces.
Released from active duty at the end of World War II, Colonel Leich returned to civilian life in Indiana, but maintained an intense and active interest in both the Army and Army Aviation. He was the first national president of the Army Aviation Association (AAAA) in the later 50's and served as that organization's National Awards Chairman for 24. years.
He retired in 1960 as a Colonel of Artillery, USAR after thirty-one and one-half years of commissioned service, and subsequently was appointed as a Brigadier General in the Indiana Guard Reserve (IGR). In the later '60's, he championed Army Aviation while serving as Civilian Aide to several Secretaries of the Army, and continued to support its objectives at every opportunity.