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Class Notes

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Sylvanus Thayer Award 2009 – Ross Perot

H. Ross Perot was born on June 27, 1930 in Texarkana, Texas. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1953, he was class president, chairman of the honor committee, and recipient of the National College Award for Leadership. Four years at sea on the USS Sigourney and the USS Leyte preceded his being honorably discharged to continue serving our Nation in civilian life. 

Settling in Dallas, Texas with his wife Margot. Mr. Perot joined IBM before establishing his own company, EDS, which he built into one of the world’s largest technology services firms. In 1979, when two EDS employees were taken hostage by the Iranian government, Mr. Perot organized and directed their successful rescue by EDS employees (Vietnam veterans) led by retired Special Forces Colonel Arthur “Bull” Simons. Following the sale of EDS to General Motors, Mr. Perot founded Perot Systems Corporation, serving as Chief Executive Officer until 1992 and again from 1997 until 2000, helping to take the company public in 1999. Mr. Perot served as Chairman of the Board until 2004, when he was elected Chairman Emeritus. In both of his companies Mr. Perot emphasized hiring former military leaders, and preparing them to become future business leaders. 

The catalogue of Ross Perot’s public activities is extensive. It includes successfully working to end the brutal treatment U.S. POW’s in Southeast Asia, spearheading anti-drug efforts and education reform in Texas, and strong bids for the presidency of the United States in 1992 and 1996.

The Perot family is actively involved in a variety of charitable and civic activities through the Perot Foundation, which has given approximately $200 million primarily in support of medical research, complex medical treatment for wounded veterans, and education. 

Less public have been Mr. Perot’s deep commitment to our armed forces and their families. This commitment drew the following praise from the late General Wayne Downing USMA ’62: “The US Army Ranger Creed succinctly states,’I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy.’ . . . .  I have never met anyone that lives up to this standard like Ross. For over three decades, his determined efforts were personally responsible for the welfare and repatriation of many captured Americans and our loyal supporters.” Time after time Mr. Perot has given his time and resources to provide life-changing, and sometimes life-saving, support to our nation’s warriors, often by providing medical care and resources not otherwise readily available. 

Mr. Perot has also demonstrated a special appreciation for West Point, speaking to Cadets, providing them literature on Medal of Honor recipients, and contributing financially to West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center. Widely recognized for his service and patriotism, Mr. Perot has received numerous awards and honors.