The West Point Association of Graduates (WPAOG) has named the 2017 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 awards will be presented in a ceremony at West Point on May 23, 2017. The 2017 Distinguished Graduate Award Recipients are:
Mr. Marshall N. Carter ’62
BG (R) Daniel Kaufman ’68
Called “the absolute total package” by General (Retired) David Petraeus ’74 and “one of the top five public servants” by General (Retired) Barry McCaffrey ’64, Brigadier General (Retired) Daniel Kaufman has spent nearly five decades as both a soldier and a scholar, shaping generations of leaders for West Point, the U.S. Army, and the nation. After a tour in Vietnam with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, receiving a Bronze Star Medal and two Purple Hearts for wounds he sustained in combat, Kaufman earned a master’s degree at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government (and later a doctorate at MIT) and began a highly respected career as an educator in uniform, culminating in serving as the 12th Dean of the Academic Board at the U.S. Military Academy. As Dean, Kaufman helped transform the Academy after 9/11, securing funds for Jefferson Library and Bartlett Hall, graduating 13 Rhodes and 12 Marshall Scholars during his tenure, and supporting numerous “Dean’s Teams,” whose success raised USMA’s academic reputation to rank as the “#1 Public College in America” according to Forbes. Kaufman was also instrumental in establishing the Afghan Military Academy and was the founding President of Georgia Gwinnett College, the first four-year U.S. public college created in the 21st century.
GEN (R) Martin Dempsey ’74
GEN (R) Lloyd Austin ’75
Ask those who served with General (Retired) Lloyd J. Austin III, and they are all likely to echo the words of General Mark Milley, the 39th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army: “Lloyd Austin is a great officer and leader, but more importantly, he is a first-class person of humility and character.” In his 41-year military career, Austin went from a rifle platoon leader in the 7th Infantry to the 33rd Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army and Commander of U.S. Central Command, overseeing the 20-country Central Region and the military campaign to defeat the terrorist organization ISIL, in Iraq and Syria. He holds the unique distinction of having commanded in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan at the 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-star levels, and was the first African-American to command a division, corps, and field army in combat. He is the recipient of the Silver Star and five Defense Distinguished Service Medals. “Command, combat, and success are the hallmarks of his sterling career,” said Admiral (Retired) Michael Mullen, the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, regarding Austin. Called a warrior and a “Soldier’s Soldier” by many, Austin is also the pride of Thomasville, Georgia, his hometown, receiving the Pinnacle Award, Thomasville County Chamber of Commerce’s highest award, and being inducted into the county’s Sports Hall of Fame as a renowned scholar-athlete.
HON Robert A. McDonald ’75
GEN (R) Raymond Odierno ’76
According to General (Retired) Richard Myers, 15th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General (Retired) Raymond Odierno is the “consummate American Soldier.” Throughout his career, he served in a variety of heavy and light units in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, commanding at every level from Platoon to Theater and serving on the Army, Joint and OSD staffs. In fact, he is one of the few generals in modern history to command at the division, corps and theater level during the same conflict. He was a Major General by 9/11 and, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, commanded the 4th Infantry Division in the most rapid deployment of heavy armored forces in history, with his troops capturing Saddam Hussein in December 2003. He returned to Iraq in November 2006 as Commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq, engineering the now-famous troop “Surge,” which significantly changed the dynamics and the outcome of the conflict. From 2008-2010 he commanded Multi-National Force (Iraq) and was later selected to command U.S. Joint Forces Command. He culminated his career as the 38th Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army, “providing extraordinary leadership during difficult times, becoming the face of the Army when resources were rarely adequate to meet the expanding tasks required of them,” said Condoleezza Rice, 66th U.S. Secretary of State. “He truly represents integrity, character, and sacrifice.”