Captain Malcolm Bruce Niles, U.S. Army, Ret., 71, a resident of Houghton Lane, Bennington, died Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center following a long illness.
Born in Bennington March 7, 1942, he was the son of the late Robert MacGrey Niles Jr. and the former Louise (Kastenbein) Niles. Bruce received his education in local schools and was a 1961 graduate of Bennington Catholic High School.
A veteran of the Vietnam War, Bruce retired from the U. S. Army in 1983 with the rank of Captain, after serving as an officer and enlisted. He attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Field Artillery Officer Candidate School, Field Artillery Officer Advanced School and served as a combat helicopter pilot for 12 years. Bruce’s list of military awards included the Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star, Air Medal with Valor and 27 Oak Leaf Clusters and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry. He was a member of both the Vietnam Helicopter Pilot’s Association and the Distinguished Flying Cross Society. He was involved in local Veteran groups where he assisted in the Vietnam moving wall ceremonies for Bennington. Bruce earned the Air Medal with Valor after rescuing his fallen comrades while serving as aircraft commander in a enemy hostile landing zone.
Following his military career Bruce returned home and served the next twenty years with the U. S. Postal Service, retiring from the North Bennington Post Office.
Bruce married the former Nancy Fierro on April 19, 1997 in Bennington.
Bruce was a devout member of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church where he served as past Chair of the Parish Council and youth ministry leader. An avid outdoorsman, Bruce enjoyed being outdoors with family and "farming for fun".
He was a life member of VFW Post 1332 in Bennington, a member of American Legion Post 13 and the NorShaft Lions Club. Bruce was a founding member of the Shaftsbury Veterans Committee.
Survivors include his wife, Nancy Fierro Niles of Bennington; five children, Patrick Niles (Joyce) of Lincoln, RI, Diana Niles Jones (Jimmy) of Hope Mills, NC, Peter Niles II (Kathy) of Washington, DC, Colette Niles Reid (Al) of Summerville, SC, and Maria Fierro deLeon (Richard) of Berlin, NY; eight grandchildren, Christian and Cameron Wiscovitch, Madalyn Niles, Gabriel and Cooper Niles; Lucy Reid, Olivia and Anthony deLeon; two brothers, James W. Niles (Linda; deceased) of Beaver Dam, WI and Peter S. Niles (Michelle) of North Bennington and many nieces, nephews and cousins. Bruce was predeceased by two brothers, Robert M. Niles III and Eric K. Niles.
The funeral will be held from St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in North Bennington on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 10:00 A.M. where the Liturgy Christian Death and Burial will be offered.
Friends may call at the Mahar & Son Funeral Home Friday, January 3, from 4:00 to 7:00 P.M. when the family will be in attendance.
Private committal services will take place at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia in the spring.
Should friends desire memorial contributions in Bruce Niles memory may be made to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center Cardiac Rehab, through the office of the Mahar & Son Funeral Home, 628 Main Street, Bennington, VT 05201.
Guest book condolences may be made at www.maharandsonfuneralhome.net.