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1997 Distinguished Graduate Award Recipients

Categories: Distinguished Graduate Award, Events & Awards, Grad News
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The West Point Association of Graduates (WPAOG) has named the 1997 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.” View photos here. The 1997 Distinguished Graduate Award Recipients are:

1997 Distinguished Graduate Award Recipient COL Russell P. Reeder, Jr., USA (Ret.) ’26

COL (R) Russell P. Reeder, Jr. ’26

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Russell Potter Reeder, Jr. was born at reveille, just as the saluting gun boomed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1902. At the age of eleven, he heroically saved the life of a drowning younger child in Casco Bay, Maine. For this achievement, he was awarded the Treasury Department Silver Life-Saving Medal.

“Red” Reeder graduated from West Point in 1926, and was commissioned in the Infantry. Lieutenant Reeder’s first assignment was to the 34th Infantry at Fort Eustis, Virginia. During the next five years, he served at various Army posts in the United States. In 1928, Lieutenant Reeder was invited to work out with the New York Giants baseball team; at the end of the tryout he was offered a contract to play professional baseball at three times his Army salary. He refused, electing to remain on active service.

Promoted to first lieutenant in 1932, “Red” Reeder was assigned to the Infantry School at Fort Benning as a student officer, graduating in 1933. In the fall of 1929 he returned to West Point to help coach the Army football team, a seasonal duty that he repeated through the 1936 season.

Reassigned to Fort Clayton, Canal Zone, in 1934, he commanded infantry companies for over two years.

On leave in California when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, “Red” Reeder reported to Fort Ord and immediately assumed command of a reinforced battalion of the 32nd Infantry, 7th Infantry Division. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in February 1942, he served a short period as regimental executive officer before being reassigned to the Operations Division, War Department General Staff in July 1942.

In the fall of 1942, General Marshall sent Colonel Reeder to Australia and New Guinea, charged with “bringing back lessons our soldiers and Marines have learned fighting the Japanese.” His report, written in informal style and entitled “Fighting on Guadalcanal,” was accepted by General Marshall, who wrote a foreword and ordered one million copies printed and distributed to all troops in training for combat, including Marines, the British and the Chinese. While in New Guinea, “Red” Reeder was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action by General MacArthur, and his outstanding staff work on the War Department General Staff was recognized with the award of the Bronze Star Medal.

In March 1944, Colonel Reeder’s tireless efforts to be assigned to a combat theater were rewarded; he was ordered to the United Kingdom to report to General Omar Bradley for duty. On April 1, 1944, he was assigned to command the 12th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division.

Colonel Reeder’s superlative ability to lead men was no more in evidence than during the two months preceding the invasion of Normandy. Taking a regiment that had been the “stepchild of the division,” lacking in confidence and poorly trained for war, “Red” Reeder was able to turn the 12th Infantry Regiment into a first class fighting outfit, one that amply justified the faith General Bradley had placed in Colonel Reeder by giving him the command.

The 12th Infantry Regiment, led by Colonel Reeder, was the third regiment ashore on Utah Beach, and the furthest inland by dusk. Always at the point of the attack with his men, “Red” Reeder gave new meaning to the phrase, “leading by example.” His inspired leadership and indomitable courage resulted in his being awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the first such award made in France.

For six days the 12th Infantry spearheaded the invasion. But, on June 11, a German 88 millimeter round burst near Colonel Reeder, badly wounding him. The war was over for “Red” Reeder, and, several months later, his left leg was amputated.

He retired from the Army in 1945, but was immediately recalled to active duty at the request of Major General Maxwell D. Taylor, Superintendent of the Military Academy. At West Point, Colonel Reeder commanded the Second Regiment, United States Corps of Cadets for two years. He established a course in leadership in 1946 at the request of the Superintendent, a course that provided the foundation for all leadership taught at West Point since then — and the model for the Department of Behavioral Science and Leadership, widely recognized as the standard for leadership instruction.

In 1948 “Red” Reeder joined the Army Athletic Association as an Assistant Director of Athletics, responsible for maintenance and operation of the athletic association’s physical plant. In addition, he coached the Plebe (freshman) baseball team and was an assistant coach for the varsity team. “Red” retired from the Army Athletic Association in 1967.

After taking a correspondence course in 1954, he began a writing career that spanned nearly forty years and produced over 35 books. A prolific and versatile author, Colonel Reeder’s work encompassed military history, children’s books, athletics, biography, and autobiography.

Colonel Reeder’s military decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and two decorations awarded by France: the Croix de Guerre Avec Palm and the French Legion of Honor.

He was presented with the Freedom Foundation’s National Recognition Award in 1963; received a citation from the Association of the United States Army in 1968 for “outstanding services to the U.S. Army;” received the Ben Castle award presented by the West Point Society of Washington, DC, in 1968 for services to West Point; and in 1979 the Superintendent, USMA, presented Colonel Reeder with a silver plaque recognizing his “exemplary service and dedication to the United States Military Academy.” The Colonel Russell P. “Red” Reeder Baseball Award is presented annually to the most valuable player in the graduating class at USMA. In 1985, the Commandant’s Conference Room at West Point was renamed the Red Reeder Room. The new Johnson baseball stadium has a Red Reeder team room.

Colonel Reeder’s life epitomizes the finest qualities of the American infantryman. Resolute and fearless in battle, dauntless in the face of adversity, possessed of an incorruptible honor and the motivation to win at all costs, “Red” Reeder learned a lesson on the playing fields that has stayed with him all of his life: “never quit, always press on, press on.”

Throughout a lifetime of service, Colonel Reeder has made invaluable contributions to the welfare of his country and his Alma Mater. His accomplishments clearly reflect the values expressed in the motto of West Point: Duty, Honor, Country.

Accordingly, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy hereby presents the 1997 Distinguished Graduate Award to Russell Potter Reeder, Jr., USMA Class of 1926.

John A. Hammack
Chairman and CEO

GEN (R) Michael S. Davison ’39

1997 Distinguished Graduate Award Recipient GEN Michael S. Davison, USA (Ret.) ’39

A distinguished military commander, soldier-statesman and matchless combat leader, Michael Shannon Davison has rendered a lifetime of extraordinary service to the Army, his country, and his Alma Mater. Throughout a career marked by outstanding leadership, the highest integrity, and steadfast devotion to duty, he consistently demonstrated the qualities embodied in West Point’s motto: DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY.

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General Davison graduated from West Point in 1939 and was commissioned in the Cavalry. His first tour of duty took him to Fort Brown, Texas, with the 12th Cavalry Regiment. Within two years of graduation he commanded Troop A of the 12th Cavalry and a year later, as a captain, he was appointed Executive Officer and later Commander of the 1st Squadron, 12th Cavalry, assignments that were to prepare him well for the larger crucible of the European war.

Michael Davison reported to the Operations Division, War Department General Staff Theater Group, in January 1943. Two months later he was reassigned to the 45th Infantry Division in North Africa as Assistant G-2 (Intelligence). During the next year, the then Major Davison served with the 45th Division in Sicily and Italy in some of the most intense and bitter fighting of the war.

The 45th Infantry Division suffered heavy casualties as they spearheaded the landings at Anzio in March 1944, and despite having no prior command experience with infantry units, and just two weeks before his 27th birthday, Mike Davison was chosen to command the 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment. Promoted to lieutenant colonel four months later, he remained in command of the battalion through the heavy fighting of the Italian campaign and the landing in southern France. During his service with the 45th Division, he was wounded twice and awarded both the Silver Star for gallantry in action and the Bronze Star Medal with V device.

During the final year of the war in Europe, Lieutenant Colonel Davison served as G-2 (Intelligence) and G-3 (Operations) at Headquarters, VI Corps.

Colonel Davison was assigned to the Plans Section, Headquarters Army Ground Forces at Fort Monroe, and later commanded the 18th Mechanized Cavalry Squadron in Puerto Rico. In 1951 he received a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University. After a tour in the Office, Chief of Legislative Liaison, he was assigned to West Point as Commander, First Regiment, United States Corps of Cadets in 1954.

He graduated from the National War College in 1958, and returned to the Pentagon where he served as Chief, Combat Materiel Division, Office, Chief of Research and Development until 1960. Subsequently, Colonel Davison commanded Combat Command A, 3rd Armored Division in Germany, and was later named Chief of Staff for V Corps and promoted to Brigadier General.

In 1963, General Davison became the 51st Commandant of Cadets at West Point. Drawing on his wide military experience and unparalleled professional competence, he made important contributions to the career and character development of the Corps of Cadets. Greater responsibility for upperclassmen, an improved physical education program, and increased emphasis on leadership training marked General Davison’s tour as Commandant.

Appointed to the prestigious position as Commandant of the Army’s Command and General Staff College, he was instrumental in preparing America’s professional officers for the Vietnam conflict. Promoted to lieutenant general in 1968, General Davison was appointed Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Army Pacific, and subsequently as Chief of Staff for Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command. In 1970, he assumed command of II Field Force, Vietnam, and was responsible for conducting the vitally important campaign in Cambodia.

In May 1971, he was promoted to General and assigned as Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Army Europe, and concurrently as Commander, Central Army Group, NATO.

As the senior United States officer in Europe, General Davison placed special emphasis on race relations and equal opportunity during his command tour. As a result of these seminal efforts, the NAACP presented him with its Meritorious Service Award in 1976. The citation reads:

“In recognition of his leadership, courage, and dedication to the principles of human relations, equality of opportunity and justice, which has been the hallmark of his numerous commands in the Army of the United States.”

Following his retirement from the Army in 1975, Mike Davison was President of the USO; Vice President of Joseph R. Loring Associates; a board member of Mercedes-Benz of North America; Vice Chairman of the Army and Air Force Mutual Aid Association; President, Shannon Enterprises; and a member of the Advisory Board, International Security Council. Elected to the Board of Trustees of the Association of Graduates, USMA, in 1980, he became President in 1983.

General Davison served six years as President of the Association of Graduates — longer than any other elected President. His dynamic and innovative leadership was directly responsible for a major expansion in private funds raised for the benefit of the Military Academy; for a four-fold increase in the number of active West Point Societies; for the initiation of a program to create a ten million dollar alumni center solely through private financing; and the production, in coordination with NFL Films, of a 45-minute video, shown on national television, on Army football and the superb leadership and courage shown by Army football players as they served on active duty after graduation.

General Davison’s decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters; the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster; the Silver Star; the Bronze Star with V for Valor and oak leaf cluster; the Air Medal with eight oak leaf clusters; the Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster; the French Legion of Honor; the French Croix de Guerre; the German Grand Cross of Merit; the Bavarian Grand Cross of Merit; and the Royal Order of the King of Thailand, Knight First Class. He holds an honorary degree of Doctor of Law from the University of Maryland, and is an honorary citizen of Meximieux, France.

Throughout a lifetime of dedicated service to his country and to American soldiers, General Davison has made invaluable contributions to the welfare and security of the United States and the nations of the free world. His steadfast sense of duty, dauntless and innovative leadership, and unquestioned integrity and valor have set an example that those who follow can only hope to emulate.

Accordingly, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy takes great pride in presenting the 1997 Distinguished Graduate Award to Michael Shannon Davison, USMA Class of 1939.

John A. Hammack
Chairman and CEO

1997 Distinguished Graduate Award Recipient Dr. David M. Abshire ’51

Dr. David M. Abshire ’51

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Dr. Abshire began a lifetime of public service upon his graduation from West Point in 1951. After infantry branch training, he was assigned to Korea, where serving in combat as a front line infantry platoon leader and company commander, he was cited for valor.

In 1955, he left the Army to enroll in the graduate program at Georgetown University from which he received a Ph.D., with honors, in History in 1959.

He then joined the staff of the House Minority Leader and subsequently became Director for Special Projects at the American Enterprise Institute in 1961. While there, he conceived the idea and, together with Admiral Arleigh Burke, organized the founding of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Since its inception, Dr. Abshire has been the principal architect and institution builder of what has become widely recognized as a world-leading public policy institution. Over the years, he has recruited world statesmen and strategists to the Center’s ranks, and has involved a wide range of Members of Congress and corporate leaders in working groups to solve national and international problems.

Throughout his tenure as President, the Center produced incisive studies that have been instrumental in formulating national public policy. An early study was pivotal in the drafting and passage of the Goldwater Nichols Act. In 1992, the Center produced the report of the 58-person Nunn/Domenici Commission on “Strengthening of America.” In March of 1997, the Center published a definitive study of “Professional Military Education,” providing much-needed scholarly rationale supporting the military educational system and, in particular, validating the roles of West Point and the other Service Academies as the linchpins of that system.

As a public policy practitioner, Dr. Abshire has held a series of high-level Presidential appointments.

He served as Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations from 1970 to 1973 and played a pivotal role in maintaining bipartisan Congressional coalitions that sustained the U.S. military effort in Vietnam. He negotiated the compromise to the Cooper-Church Amendment that otherwise would have seriously restricted military operations in Southeast Asia. He also developed the Congressional compromise that ensured the survival of Radio Liberty and Radio-Free Europe under a public board, in the face of an attempt to cut off CIA funding and let the Radios die. These stations thus continued to play a key role in the Cold War battle to open East European and Russian society.

President Ford, in 1974, appointed him as the first chairman of the U.S. Board for International Broadcasting. As President Carter later wrote:

“You have rendered a distinguished service in getting the Board solidly established as sponsor of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty and in representing these important institutions to the Congress and the American public . . .”

In 1974, President Gerald Ford also appointed Dr. Abshire to the Congressional Commission on the Organization of the Government for the Conduct of Foreign Policy.

In 1980, Dr. Abshire was asked by President-elect Ronald Reagan to chair the transition of administrations in the CIA, State and Defense Departments. Subsequently, he was asked to serve on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. In 1983, he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to NATO. As Ambassador, Dr. Abshire was the point man at NATO for building allied support for the deployment of the U.S. Pershing II missiles in Europe to counter the threat of Soviet nuclear blackmail.

In awarding Ambassador Abshire the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, Secretary Weinberger said:

“Throughout a period of great flux in inter-allied and East-West relations, he was the source of an astonishing flow of imaginative and resourceful ideas geared to the resolution of difficult alliance issues. Ambassador Abshire’s cogent and innovative proposals for enhancing NATO arms cooperation have already transformed that crucial area of alliance activities. Ever mindful of the central importance of parliamentary and public opinion, he worked tirelessly to build an effective and lasting partnership with Congress . . .”

In 1987, Dr. Abshire was personally asked by President Reagan to serve as Special Counselor to the President with Cabinet rank for the purpose of organizing White House and departmental responses to the Iran Contra investigations to ensure that there was no coverup. After much previous criticism, the integrity of his effort earned Dr. Abshire bipartisan credit for restoring the credibility in the Administration at a difficult time for the Presidency.

As a private citizen, he has served as a member of the Board of Directors of Procter & Gamble and the Ogden Corporation, and on the Advisory Board of BP America.

In the realm of scholarship, he has written five books and edited three others on a wide range of domestic and international issues. He has been a strong promoter in his writings and at CSIS of the study of strategy and history.

Dr. Abshire is a Trustee of Baylor School (Chattanooga, Tennessee). He is also co-founder of the Trinity National Leadership Roundtable in Washington, a former Vice-Chairman of Youth for Understanding, and a board member of the Army War College Foundation.

He has been decorated by the chiefs of state of Belgium, Italy, Finland, Korea, and the United States.

Soldier, institution builder, public servant, author, scholar, diplomat, and counselor to Presidents, Dr. Abshire has rendered a lifetime of extraordinary service to his country and to the international community of freedom-loving nations.

Accordingly, the Association of Graduates takes great pride in presenting the 1997 Distinguished Graduate Award to David M. Abshire, Class of 1951.

John A. Hammack
Chairman and CEO

GEN (R) John R. Galvin ’54

1997 Distinguished Graduate Award Recipient GEN John R. Galvin, USA (Ret.) ’54

As a military commander, educator, author, and soldier-statesman, John Rogers Galvin has rendered a lifetime of extraordinary service to his country and to the international community of freedom-loving nations. In positions of great responsibility in the national interest of the United States, General Galvin has exemplified matchless devotion to the principles expressed in the motto of West Point: DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY.

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General Galvin’s contributions to the security of the United States and the Western Alliance are without parallel. His 38 years of commissioned service are replete with extraordinary accomplishments.

As a junior officer, he mastered his craft, serving with light infantry and airborne units. At the same time, he began his lifelong contribution to higher education, earning a Master’s degree at Columbia University in preparation for assignment to West Point in the Department of English.

In the late 60s, he served two tours in Vietnam, first as an operations officer with the 1st Cavalry Division and later as Commander of the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry. Leading his battalion in combat, he distinguished himself, earning the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Soldier’s Medal, three Bronze Stars, and the Air Medal with Valor Device.

During the middle years of his military career, General Galvin perfected his military competence and leadership skills in a succession of key assignments, as a high-level staff officer and major unit commander. In 1975, he commanded the 3rd Infantry Division Support Command in Germany. He then served as Division Chief of Staff. Promoted to Brigadier General in 1978, he was assigned Assistant Division Commander of the 8th Infantry Division. Having proved himself a seasoned and imaginative troop unit commander, he was selected to command the 24th Infantry Division. As Commander, he designed and implemented innovative training and maintenance programs which dramatically improved unit combat readiness of the division.

In recognition of his highly successful divisional command, he was chosen to command the Seventh Corps in Germany.

In 1985, he was promoted to General and designated Commander-in-Chief of the United States Southern Command, where he soon gained a reputation as a consummate soldier-statesman.

Two years later, the Allied Nations of NATO selected General Galvin as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. In his five years of leadership of the Western Alliance, NATO became stronger than at any time in its history, and as a peaceful alliance of strength assured the victory of the West in the Cold War. While at NATO, General Galvin played a key role in some of the defining issues of the post-Cold War era — supporting the Gulf War; the Patriot Missile defense of Israel; the rescue of 450,000 Kurdish refugees in Northern Iraq; East-West negotiations on arms control, redesigning NATO strategy; supporting military operations in Zaire, Liberia, and other African nations; and humanitarian support for Central and Eastern Europe.

Upon his retirement as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, General Galvin received the highest praise and honors from the member nations of the Alliance. His own nation added its recognition, awarding him the Defense, Army, Air Force, and Navy Distinguished Service Medals, and citing him for his strategic and operational genius, and his clear vision and statesmanship during a period of unprecedented change and instability.

Retirement from active Army service did not bring retirement from service to his country. Continuing his collateral career in higher education, General Galvin was selected as the Olin Distinguished Professor of National Security at West Point in 1992. In 1994, he became Distinguished Visiting Policy Analyst, Mershon Center, at Ohio State University.

While with Ohio State, his unique reputation as one of America’s premier soldier-statesmen was recognized. General Galvin again responded to his nation’s call to serve as a key State Department negotiator and envoy, with the rank of Ambassador, in our nation’s efforts to forge a peaceful resolution of the bitter internecine conflict in Bosnia. In 1995, he was selected as the sixth Dean of the prestigious Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

General Galvin is a published author-historian and a member of the boards of numerous public service and corporate organizations.

Throughout a lifetime of service to his country and to his fellow citizens, General Galvin has made lasting and invaluable contributions to the welfare and security of the United States and the nations of the free world. His life of selfless accomplishment exemplifies uncommon dedication and devotion to his country and clearly reflects the cherished values expressed in the motto of West Point.

Accordingly, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy hereby presents the 1997 Distinguished Graduate Award to General John Rogers Galvin, Class of 1954.

John A. Hammack
Chairman and CEO

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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