1993 Distinguished Graduate Award Recipients

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The West Point Association of Graduates (WPAOG) has named the 1993 recipients of the Distinguished Graduate Award. This annual award has been bestowed upon those West Point graduates whose character, distinguished service, and stature draw wholesome comparison to the qualities for which West Point strives, in keeping with its motto: “Duty, Honor, Country.” The 1993 Distinguished Graduate Award Recipients are:

LTG (R) Edward L. Rowny ’41

As a distinguished soldier in three wars, as a statesman and advisor to Presidents Reagan and Bush, and as dean of American delegations to the Soviet Union on strategic arms limitations and reductions for over sixteen years, Edward Leon Rowny has served his country with courage, integrity, and a consummate sense of duty over a career spanning 49 years.

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Three years after his graduation from West Point in 1941, he commanded an Engineer battalion in combat in Italy. During this command assignment, he was decorated with two Silver Stars, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Legion of Merit. Following the war, Edward Rowny returned to the Strategy Section, Operations Division, War Department General Staff, where he served for two years. In 1947, he left the Pentagon for Yale University, where he earned master’s degrees in engineering and international relations.

The Korean War found him serving as G-4 and Corps Engineer for the Tenth Corps. He helped plan the successful amphibious invasion at Inchon, and later commanded the 38th Infantry Regiment, Second Infantry Division. During this period he was awarded the Air Medal, his third Silver Star for gallantry in action and received two awards of the Legion of Merit.

Three years on the Staff and Faculty of The Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, were followed by a three year assignment on the staff of Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe. Returning to the United States, Edward Rowny graduated from the National War College in 1959, and was then assigned to the United States Army Element, Office of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. In 1961, he became Assistant Division Commander Support, for the 82nd Airborne Division.

A year later, General Rowny was directed to establish the Army Concepts Team in Vietnam. As Chief of the team, and at that very early stage of the conflict, he was responsible for the development of counterinsurgency tactics and weapons doctrine that later proved invaluable for our forces in Vietnam. Returning to the Pentagon in 1963, he served as Special Assistant for Tactical Mobility to the Assistant Chief of Staff, Force Development; and then as Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Force Development until 1965.

He commanded the 24th Infantry Division form 1965-66, and then served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics for United States Army, Europe until 1968. At the completion of this assignment he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. General Rowny was assigned as Deputy Chief for Research and Development, Department of the Army, in 1969, and in 1970 he became Commanding General, First Corps in Korea. In 1971 he began a two year tour as Deputy Chairman of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Military Commission.

General Rowny’s last assignment on active duty was Joint Chiefs of Staff Representative to the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks, a position he held from 1973 to 1979, when he retired from the Army. General Rowny’s encyclopedic knowledge of the Soviet mentality and negotiating techniques, his unswerving determination to yield no advantage to our opponents, and his
broad grasp of broad strategic issues as well as the technical details of armaments and weapons systems made him a tireless advocate for an equal and adequately verifiable arms treaty.

After his retirement from the service, General Rowny worked against the ratification of the SALT II treaty, testifying before the Senate that the treaty was not in the best interests of the United States. In 1981, President Reagan appointed, and the Senate confirmed, General Rowny as Chief Negotiator for the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks and Chairman of the United States

In 1985, President Reagan named General Rowny to be Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State for Arms Control Matters. In 1989, President Reagan awarded Ambassador Rowny the Presidential Citizen’s Medal for his extraordinary efforts as the architect of United States arms control policy of “Peace through Strength.”

In 1990, Ambassador Rowny ended almost 50 years of service to his nation when he resigned from his position as Senior Arms Control Advisor to the President. Now a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, he is also a Distinguished Visiting Professor at George Washington University, where he teaches a course in International Negotiations.

Throughout a long and distinguished career of public service, Ambassador Rowny’s every action has mirrored the words of the West Point motto: “Duty, Honor, Country.” Admired and respected by friends and foes alike, Ambassador Rowny has consistently demonstrated steadfastness, outspoken integrity, and a tough-minded perseverance that have been a major factor in maintaining the security of the United States and its Allies during the years of the Cold War.

Accordingly, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy takes pride in presenting the 1993 Distinguished Graduate Award to a great soldier, statesman, and patriot: Edward Leon Rowny, Class of 1941.

Brig Gen (R) Robert F. McDermott ’43 Jan

As a distinguished soldier, professional military educator, peerless business leader and selfless public servant, Robert Francis McDermott has rendered a lifetime of extraordinary service to the United States, to his Alma Mater and to his fellow citizens. In multiple fields of endeavor, Robert McDermott has exemplified outstanding devotion to the principles expressed in the motto of West Point – Duty, Honor, Country.

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Graduating from West Point during the darkest hours of World War II, Robert McDermott began a military career in aviation, soon marked with extraordinary accomplishment. Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army Air Corps, he attended flight training and was posted to the European Theater of Operations where, serving with courage and distinction, he flew sixty-one combat missions as a P-38 fighter pilot.

During the years immediately following World War II, he served as a personnel staff officer in positions of increasing responsibility in Europe and later, at Headquarters, Department of the Air Force. Receiving his MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration in 1950, Robert McDermott was assigned as an Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at West Point, a position he held until 1954.

From 1954 to 1956, Robert McDermott was assigned as Professor of Economics and Vice Dean of the Faculty of the newly established United States Air Force Academy. In 1956 he was appointed Dean of the Faculty. In 1959 he was promoted to Brigadier General and was appointed by President Eisenhower as the first permanent Dean of the Faculty, United States Air Force Academy. As Dean, General McDermott presided over the academic certification of the first 10 graduating classes from the Academy. He designed the curriculum and introduced such innovations as an academic majors program and the “whole person concept,” composite criteria for selecting entering cadets. Many of his forward-looking ideas influenced developmental changes both at West Point and at Annapolis as well.

In 1968, General McDermott retired as Dean of the Faculty and from the Air Force and immediately began his equally distinguished career as the inspired leader of the United Services Automobile Association in San Antonio, Texas.

As Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, General McDermott has provided extraordinary leadership to USAA and to the insurance industry. Under his astute guidance, USAA has become the nation’s 5th largest insurer of private automobiles. It is also the nation’s 4th largest homeowner’s insurer.

General McDermott’s service to the economic and business community has spread far beyond USAA. His impact on the economic life of his adopted city of San Antonio has been equally dramatic. In 1974 he was elected Chairman of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. A year later he founded the Economic Development Foundation, an organization dedicated to bringing new business to the city. During the 1980’s he led the development of biotechnology in San Antonio, serving as Chairman of the Texas Research and Technology Foundation. His continuing public service includes membership on the Board of Directors of the Texas Department of Commerce and the Chairmanship of the San Antonio Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Throughout his varied and distinguished military and civil careers, General McDermott also has found time to serve West Point and his fellow graduates. As part of the Association’s leadership, he was instrumental in creating a lasting memorial to those West Pointers who, while serving their country in peace and war, gave their lives in flight. He presently serves as a Trustee of the Association of Graduates.

General McDermott’s military accomplishments have earned him the Distinguished Service Medal, two Legions of Merit, the Bronze Star, Six Air Medals and other citations. His unprecedented contributions as Dean of the Faculty, during the formative years of the United States Air Force Academy, have earned for him the sobriquet, “Father of the Air Force Academy.”

His service with the civil sector also has been recognized. He was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 1987 and two years later, into the American National Business Hall of Fame. Five universities have awarded him honorary doctorates. In 1988 the San Antonio Mayor, Henry Cesneros praised him as the most influential and important business leader of the decade of the 1980s.

Throughout a lifetime of service to his country and to his fellow citizens, General McDermott has made lasting and invaluable contributions to the nation, its military establishment and its business sector. His life of selfless contribution exemplifies uncommon dedication and devotion to his country, to two of its finest military educational institutions, to the national insurance industry and to his fellow citizens, and clearly reflects the values expressed in the motto of West Point. Accordingly, the Association of Graduates takes great pride in presenting the 1993 Distinguished Graduate Award to Brigadier General Robert Francis McDermott, Class of January 1943.

GEN (R) Roscoe Robinson, Jr. ’51

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After attending St. Louis University in Missouri for one year, Roscoe Robinson, Jr. entered West Point with the Class of 1951 in July 1947. Commissioned in the Infantry, his first assignment was platoon leader with the 3rd Battalion, 188th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 11th Airborne Division. In 1 952, he reported to the 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division in Korea. He served as a platoon leader, rifle company commander, and battalion S-2 during his year of combat with the 31st Infantry, and was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the Bronze Star Medal.

Returning to the United States in 1 953, Roscoe Robinson was assigned to the 11th Airborne Division, and a year later became an instructor in the Airborne Department of The Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Following mandatory attendance at the Infantry Officers Advanced Course in 1 957, Captain Robinson joined the United States Military Mission in Liberia.

In 1960, he began a two-year tour with the 82nd Airborne Division, serving successively as S-4, 2nd Battle Group, 504th Airborne Infantry Regiment and then as company commander of “E” Company of the 504th.

Roscoe Robinson attended the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, graduating in 1963. In 1964 he was awarded a master’s degree in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh. From Pittsburgh, he was assigned to the Office, Personnel Operations on Department of the Army Staff for a three-year tour.

In 1967, Lieutenant Colonel Robinson was posted to Vietnam, where he served as G-4 and then Battalion Commander in the 7th Cavalry Regiment, First Infantry Division. For his outstanding leadership during a period of close and intense combat, he was awarded two Silver Stars, the Distinguished Flying Cross, eleven Air Medals and the Legion of Merit.

Colonel Robinson’s Vietnam tour was followed by selection for attendance at the National War College. From 1969 until 1972 he served at Headquarters, Pacific Command in the G-5 Plans Directorate and as Executive Officer to the Chief of Staff. Forthis service, he was awarded the Legion of Merit. Returning to the 82nd Airborne Division in 1972, Colonel Robinson took command of the Second Brigade. He was again awarded the Legion of Merit at the conclusion of his command tour. Promoted to Brigadier General, Roscoe Robinson was assigned as Deputy Commanding General, Okinawa Base Command in 1973, and two years later became Commanding General of the United States Army Garrison, Okinawa.

In 1976, Major General Robinson assumed command of his old outfit, the 82nd Airborne Division. In so doing, he became the first African-American to command that elite unit.

His first tour of duty in Europe followed division command; he was assigned to Headquarters, United States Army, Europe as Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations in 1978. Two years later, Lieutenant General Robinson traveled halfway around the world to take command of United States Army, Japan. Then, in 1982, he returned to Europe as United States Representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Military Committee.

In 1985, after completing 34 years of commissioned service, General Roscoe Robinson, Jr. retired. During his last tour of duty and at his retirement, he was awarded two Distinguished Service Medals and the Defense Distinguished Service Medal. He is the first African-American to achieve the rank of four-star general in the United States Army.

Throughout a military career that took him to the pinnacle of his profession, he overcame diversity with courage and an enduring dedication to duty. As a senior representative of his country in complex and sensitive dealings with foreign powers, General Robinson set a standard of professional conduct and selfless concern for his fellow man that brought honor and
acclaim to the United States and the organizations he represented.

Accordingly, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy takes pride in presenting the 1993 Distinguished Graduate Award to a great alumnus of West Point, Roscoe Robinson, Jr., Class of 1951.

Distinguished Graduate Award

The Distinguished Graduate Award (DGA) is to be given to graduates of the United States Military Academy whose character, distinguished service, and stature draw wholesome comparison to the qualities for which West Point strives, in keeping with its motto: “Duty, Honor, Country.” The DGA is funded by a generous endowment from E. Doug Kenna ’45 and his wife, Jean.

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