In 1951, while the Indochina War intensified, Jacques Gagniard, at the time a student in Lycée Louis le Grand, Paris, abandoned his studies and volunteered to serve, immediately, in the Far East. After an EOR training at Saumur, he landed in Tonkin in July 1952. He was 22 and a reserve second lieutenant.
Posted to a 1st Chasseurs armored unit, he served for two straight years as a squad leader, first with armored cars and then tanks. With the increasing "vietnamization" instituted by General de Lattre since 1951, he remained, in April 1954, the only French officer of his unit, which had become the 3 rd Vietnamese Reconnaissance Regiment. Transferred to Cambodia, he reintegrated the 1st Royal Cavalry Battalion, in the Bas-Mekong Operational Unit, where he was wounded and repatriated to France late 1954.
Based on his war experience, he was then integrated into the regular army.
While in France, he served for a few months in the 3rd Hussards at Alençon before moving over to Morocco, where he made a request to serve as officer for local affairs. Heading a post in the Moroccan Grand South, he lived the rather rough moments of independence of the new unit.
Transferred to Algeria, he coordinated an intelligence operational research section and was, undoubtedly, the last soldier to have successfully used carrier pigeons in wartime.
In Paris, for three years, he perfected his skills in intelligence operational research and became auditor at the Centre des Hautes Etudes sur l’Afrique et l’Asie Modernes (Center for Advanced Studies on Modern Africa and Asia).
On return to Algeria in 1961, he commanded an armored squadron of the 2 nd Spahis Regiment in the west of Oranais and had the unenviable privilege of opening the Algerian-Moroccan barricade to those who had hitherto been his adversaries and also carrying out the dissolution of his unit in the very region where it had been created in 1840.
He subsequently served in the 1st Cuirassiers of the F.F.A. before serving for five years as instructor at the Armored Cavalry Arm Training School in Saumur. He left the Army in 1971.
He has received six commendations and was made Knight of the Legion of Honor at 26 years.
He is married and father of two.
He practices intense sporting activities. His favorite sports is rugby, in which he participated first as a player and later on as a coach. By the time he left the Army, he was a grade three rugby trainer.
He is a Youth and Sports gold medallist.
Civil Professional Activity and Services in the Reserves from 1971 to 1991
In a giant Osie-based company, manufacturing materials used in public works, he worked as a senior staff at the personnel development department, before moving to try his hand in logistics. What fascinated him was the operational nature of his job. He was later on entrusted the leadership of the central department for worldwide distribution of spare parts .
He developed a rather very efficient emergency distribution service thanks to the nearness of the Roissy International Airport and the collaboration of a time-conscious, quality-oriented operational team.
With a childhood friend, he created, in 1985, a small-sized enterprise for providing services and distributing US-imported goods.
His business adventure ended in 1991.
Meanwhile, he continued to serve in the reserves, given that he was the President of the Reserve Officers Association of his region for 20 years and a one-time commander of the 5 th Hussards, an armored regiment, covering the northern region of France.
In 1980, Colonel Gagniard was promoted to Officer of the Legion of Honor.
On July 12, 2004, he was lifted to the rank of Commander.
At the Serving of His Brothers in Arms since 1991
Member of the FNCV since 1995, he was President of the Osie Section in 1998, administrator in 1999 and one of the Federation’s vice-presidents in 2002
He is an affiliated member of the Union Nationale des Combattants (National Union of Servicemen)
Head and modernizer of the Senlis Spahis Museum
Osie President of GEN de Lattre’s Foundation
Osie UDAC Secretary General, representing the FNCV
Osie Chairman of the ONAC "Memory" commission
Elected Federal President of the FNCV on 07/10/2003
Like most servicemen of his generation, he is particularly attached to Vietnam. From 1993 to 2002, he personally organized, for his fellow former war buddies and friends, ten special interest tours to Indochina.
He lives in Senlis, where he and his wife are sharing the joy of having been blessed with nine grandchildren.