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Distinguished Alumnus

Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Needham '60, Retired U.S. Army Major General

Each year, St. John's Prep proudly recognizes an alumnus whose life personifies the spirit and values of the Xaverian Brothers and the extraordinary commitment of our faculty and staff. In all endeavors, this individual models for fellow alumni what it means to be a Prep graduate and inspires current students to be change makers and forces for good in the world.

Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Needham '60 posing in front of a United States flag.

In keeping with a tradition that's now in its fourth decade, St. John's Prep is proud to recognize Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Needham '60 (retired) as the School's Distinguished Alumnus for the 2021-22 academic year. This honor recognizes a St. John's graduate whose life exemplifies the spirit and values of the Xaverian Brothers and inspires current students to be change-makers and forces for good in the world. Given his long and distinguished service in the U.S. Army, it's fitting that we make this announcement on Veterans Day.

In all endeavors, Maj. Gen. Needham personifies for fellow alumni what it means to be a Prep graduate and he has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to St. John's faculty and staff. Needham served his country throughout a decorated military career and stands among the highest-ranking graduates of St. John's to have served in the military. He entered the armed services in May of 1961 and retired on November 1, 1998.

"I really enjoy doing my best to help St. John's and all the Brothers, as they were such a big part of making my life a success," he says. "I would not have made General without the lessons I learned at St. John's Prep."

Notably, this isn't the first time Needham has been publicly acknowledged on Veterans Day. As commander of U.S. Armed Forces, Alaska, he was personally recognized in President Bill Clinton's 1994 Veterans Day address at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage.

"Maj. General Needham distinguished himself in numerous roles as a commanding officer throughout a military career that spanned most of four decades," said Headmaster Ed Hardiman, Ph.D. P'19 '21 '26. "He made the most of his opportunities while continually focusing on the needs of others, and he serves as a model to which we hope our current students and young alumni will aspire. We continually strive for excellence in all that we do, and our Distinguished Alumnus is a living example of faith, brotherhood, and wisdom for our campus."

During the Vietnam War, Needham commanded an airborne battalion. In the 1980s, he served as a Brigade Commander at Fort Richardson, Alaska, and he spent the latter years of his career as Deputy Commanding General of the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, N.C. in the late 1990s. Some of his most important work took place during the early '90s when he served as commander of Joint Task Force-Full Accounting for POW/MIA cases associated with America's long, divisive war in three countries of Southeast Asia—Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

For 30 months from 1992-94, Needham oversaw efforts to locate, recover, identify, and repatriate American soldiers' remains via the Department of Defense's MIA resolution system. As task force commander, Needham was part of an initiative that liaised with Vietnam's Ministry of National Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to negotiate access to crash sites as well as coordinate the logistics of recovery and transportation as part of search-and-recovery operations for U.S. servicemen.

This solemn and crucial work took place prior to the formal normalization of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on July 11, 1995. The efforts of the task force prior to and during Needham's command are credited with positively contributing to the eventual restoration of relations between the United States and Vietnam. The Veterans of Foreign Wars presented Needham with the VFW Armed Forces Award in 1994.

Established in 1993, the Distinguished Alumnus Award, allows the St. John's Prep community to present a living example of faith, brotherhood, and wisdom to our students. We continually strive for excellence in all that we do, and our Distinguished Alumnus is someone who has achieved professional success; has shown a commitment to lifelong learning; pursues enduring personal relationships; and serves as a model for servant leadership in the Catholic, Xaverian tradition.

Distinguished Alumni

St. John's graduates are leaders in every field, from medicine and education to religious life, sports, business, technology, the military and many more.

We are proud to recognize our distinguished alumni with an award presented annually to a graduate whose life personifies the spirit and values St. John's seeks to instill in students. St. John's established the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1993 to honor individuals who demonstrate a commitment to faith, family and service; who have achieved professional success; and who have made significant contributions to society as volunteers, mentors or benefactors. We proudly list the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award by the year in which they were honored:

  • 2022: Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Needham '60, retired U.S. Army General 
  • 2021: Art W. Coviello '71, Technology Investor and Advisor; Former CEO of RSA Security 
  • 2020: Paul F. Niehaus, Ph.D. '00, Co-Founder of GiveDirectly and Segovia; Associate Professor at University of California in San Diego
  • 2019: Thomas J. DeSimone '68, Executive Vice President and Member of the Executive Committee, WS Development
  • 2018: John Peter Frates III '03*, ALS Activist
  • 2017: Bishop Robert Reed '77, Auxiliary Bishop of Boston and President/CEO of the CatholicTV Network
  • 2016: Mike Kennealy '86, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • 2015: John A. Driscoll '90*, Educator
  • 2014: David E. Monahan, MD '62, Physician, Chula Vista, California
  • 2013: Bill O'Brien '88, Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach, University of Alabama
  • 2012: Thomas W. Haas '74, Pilot, Flight Instructor, Trustee of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
  • 2011: Jude A. Curtis '77, Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, LLP
  • 2010: John L. Dunlop '84, Program Officer, United States Agency for International Development
  • 2009: Samuel T. Byrne '83, Managing Partner and Co-Founder, CrossHarbor Capital Partners
  • 2008: The Rev. Gerard Dorgan '50*, Pastor, St. Mary of the Annunciation Church in Danvers
  • 2007: Peter R. Dolan '74, Board Chairman Tufts University, Allied Minds PLC, ChildObesity180
  • 2006: The Rev. Leo B. Shea, M.M. '56, Director of Development, Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers
  • 2005: The Rev. James J. Ronan '62, Pastor of Saint Catherine of Siena and Saint Mary's Parishes, Charlestown, Massachusetts. Founder, Rostro de Cristo, Duran, Ecuador
  • 2004: John C. Archer '68, President and CEO, Archer Insurance Agency, Inc.
  • 2003: David W. Ives '75, Vice Chairman and CEO, Northshore International Insurance Services, Inc.
  • 2002: Richard Iorio '77, Chief, Adult Reconstruction and Total Joint Arthroplasty Service, Brigham and Women's Hospital
  • 2001: James M. Sears '81, Attorney, Sears & Sears
  • 2000: Joseph R. Levis '60, Chief Executive Officer, Crusader Paper Company
  • 1999: James C. Zampell '71, President, Zampell Companies
  • 1998: John J. Studzinski '74, Managing Director and Vice Chairman, Pimco
  • 1997: David B. Perini '55, Retired Commissioner, Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management
  • 1996: Brother James M. Boyle, CFX '48*, Retired Superior General, Xaverian Brothers
  • 1995: Joseph A. Milano '62, President, Union Oyster House and Honorary Consul General Thailand
  • 1994: Paul L. Hennessey '52*, Retired Partner, Boston Partners Asset Management
  • 1993: Thomas M. Leonard '54*, President, Essex National Heritage Commission

*Denotes deceased