The West Point Association of Graduates (WPAOG) has named the 2021 recipients of the Distinguished Graduate Award. HON Michael W. Wynne ’66, Mr. Randall M. Pais ’67, Mr. Thomas C. Shull ’73, GEN (R) Stanley A. McChrystal ’76, GEN (R) David M. Rodriguez ’76, and LTG (R) Herbert Raymond (H.R.) McMaster Jr. ’84. 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 September 11, 2021. View photos of the event here. The 2021 Distinguished Graduate Award Recipients are:
HON Michael W. Wynne ’66
Mr. Randall M. Pais ’67
For more than five decades, Colonel Randall “Randy” Pais (Retired) has been an exemplary man of character, leadership, and service to his class, the Academy, the Army, the nation, and his community. “He is an Academy all-star!” says Lieutenant General Bill Lennox ’71 (Retired), 56th Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy. Pais served in Vietnam (1968-69) where he received the Bronze Star for Valor as a forward observer for the 36th ARVN Ranger Battalion. He continued in the Army Reserve from 1971 to 1997, serving in battalion through division-level positions of the 75th Division (Exercise). From 2001 to 2020, Pais served as a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army (Texas), representing eight different Secretaries during his tenure and named CASA Emeritus in January 2020. According to Colonel Deb McDonald ’85, West Point Director of Admissions, “Randy’s 38-year support of Admissions has greatly enhanced the quality of the candidate applications and increased the professionalism of our officer selection process.” Pais is credited with supporting more than 550 cadet candidates—two of who became First Captain—and his recruiting model has been used across the nation. From 1990 to 2005, Pais served on WPAOG’s Board (appointed an Emeritus in 2005) helping develop WPAOG’s “Distinguished Society Award” and encouraging his class to endow WPAOG’s annual Leaders Conference. In 1998 Pais steered a Task Force to study graduate retention rates beyond original commitment. The Committee’s proposal, coordinated with the Superintendent and Army G-1, resulted in allowing Cadets to extend their active duty service obligation by three years in return for an opportunity to select graduate school, or a specific branch or post. Pais has served as class Vice President since 1992. He has enjoyed a distinguished legal career spanning over 46 years, and remains active in Army and Veteran affairs, as a Director on the Folded Flag Foundation and on Exxon Mobil’s Veteran Council.
Mr. Thomas C. Shull ’73
GEN (R) Stanley A. McChrystal ’76
“Mentor…role model…innovator…national treasure”: These are words used by General Joseph Votel ’80 (Retired), former Commander, U.S. Central Command, to describe General Stanley McChrystal (Retired), the officer credited with the 2006 death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. McChrystal branched Infantry upon graduation and quickly began his rise to the four-star rank. After five years, he was Ranger and Special Forces qualified and had successfully completed a unit command. After serving in Korea and an assignment with the 75th Ranger Regiment, McChrystal reported to the Naval War College as a student in the Command and General Staff Course. Upon its completion, he was assigned as Army Special Operations action officer, J-3, Joint Special Operations Command, deploying to Saudi Arabia for Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Returning to the 75th Ranger Regiment in 1994, he initiated a complete revamping of the existing Army hand-to-hand combat method. Promoted to brigadier general months before 9/11, McChrystal became one of the most recognized officers in the Global War on Terrorism, delivering nationally televised Pentagon briefings on U.S. military operations in Iraq as a member of the Joint Staff and later commanding the Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq and serving as Commander of U.S. and the International Security Assistance forces in Afghanistan. He retired from service in June 2010. His awards and decorations for service include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Bronze Star. Since leaving the Army, McChrystal has remained committed to leadership: he teaches leadership to graduate students at Yale, he chairs the Board of Service Year Alliance, and he founded the organizational leadership consulting firm McChrystal Group LLC.
GEN (R) David M. Rodriguez ’76
LTG (R) Herbert Raymond (H.R.) McMaster Jr. ’84
Once picked by Fortune magazine as one of the world’s 50 greatest leaders, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster (Retired) has succeeded in both the world of thought and the world of action, having served his country with honor and distinction as a soldier, scholar, and statesman. McMaster led Eagle Troop of the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment to victory at the 1991 Battle of the 73 Easting during the Persian Gulf War, a battle in which the troop destroyed more than 80 enemy vehicles while suffering no casualties. He was an associate professor of history at West Point from 1994 to 1996. He holds a Ph.D. in American history and is the author of Dereliction of Duty, a book that General James McConville ’81, the 40th Chief of Staff of the Army, says, “…former Chiefs and I frequently recommend as essential reading for our Army’s senior officers.” As the 71st Colonel of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, McMaster commanded a multi-national battlegroup that defeated Al Qaeda-in-Iraq and liberated Tal Afar during Operation Restoring Rights. McMaster also served with distinction as a task force commander in Afghanistan. He later commanded the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, GA, leading innovations in leader development, training, concepts, and doctrine. After serving as Deputy Commanding General (Futures) of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, he was selected as the 26th Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. McMaster retired in 2018. He is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and teaches at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute and Graduate School of Business. He is, most recently, the author of Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World. Hoover’s director, Condoleezza Rice, 66th U.S. Secretary of State, says, “H.R. is without question one of the great soldier-statesmen of his generation.”