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2022 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 2022 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 were presented in a ceremony at West Point on May 17, 2022. The 2022 Distinguished Graduate Award Recipients include a decorated combat surgeon, a Delta Force legend, a former four-star commander of a multinational coalition in Afghanistan, a trailblazing and transformative former Chief of Ordnance, the CEO and Chairman of one of the world’s top-10 companies, and the Army’s first Black female lieutenant general.

COL (R) Frederick C. Lough Jr. ’70

COL (R) Lee A. Van Arsdale ’74

Given his long tenure with the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, better known as the famed Delta Force, COL (R) Lee Van Arsdale was in the shadows for much of his career, yet his lifetime of devotion to the values of “Duty, Honor, Country” have never been in the dark. Van Arsdale branched Infantry upon graduation and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division after Airborne and Ranger School, where he was an Honor Graduate. He volunteered for Special Forces and was subsequently assigned to the 10th Special Forces Group as commander of an A Team. In 1985, Van Arsdale started the arduous process of training for assignment to Delta, remaining with “The Unit” until 1996, becoming the West Pointer with more time in the Special Forces than any other graduate of the Academy. While with Delta, Van Arsdale played a key role in Operation Just Cause (Panama), including personally holding ousted dictator Manuel Noriega while he was cuffed. He was also part of the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia in 1993, more commonly known as “Blackhawk Down” from Mark Bowden’s book and the 2001 film. Van Arsdale earned the Silver Star for leading troops through intense enemy fire to the chopper crash site, extracting the bodies of fallen soldiers, and directing the force “back through hostile fire” to safety. Upon retirement, Van Arsdale was CEO of Triple Canopy, a private security company serving military and government clients known for its code of ethics. Van Arsdale is currently the co-chairman of Creative Radicals, a software company supporting the war on terrorism. “One of the characteristics for the Army’s Special Forces is ‘Quiet Professional,’” says Wade Y. Ishimoto, Distinguished Senior Fellow at Joint Special Operations University. “Lee Van Arsdale epitomizes a quiet professional: he is humble, a great mentor and leader, with superb personal and professional standards.” [WATCH VIDEO]

GEN (R) John F. Campbell ’79

BG (R) Rebecca S. Halstead ’81

Reading about the accomplishments of BG (R) Rebecca “Becky” Halstead, one is likely to see the phrase, “The first woman to…” (be promoted to general officer from all of the Service Academies, command in combat at the strategic level, become Chief of Ordnance, and more); yet, for those who worked with and for Halstead, gender had nothing to do with the exceptional qualities which distinguish her from nearly any other leader. As commander of the 10th Mountain Division Support Command (DISCOM), she deployed to Afghanistan as a logistics staff officer for Coalition Task Force Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. In 2005, she deployed to Iraq as the Commanding General of 3rd Corps Support Command (COSCOM) and was responsible for leading over 25,000 military and civilian personnel, located in 55 geographically dispersed bases, covering 168,000 square miles, providing essential supply, maintenance, and transportation support to over 250,000 deployed personnel. A year later, she was assigned as the Army’s Chief of Ordnance and commanded the U.S. Army Ordnance Center and Schools, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. Halstead is known throughout the Army for her “STEADFAST” leadership (“Soldiers, Training, Excellence, Attitude, Discipline, Family and Friends, Accountability, Service, and Teamwork”), principles that she’s conveyed to countless soldiers and adapted for civilians in her book 24/7: The First Person You Must Lead is You. Her book, along with her 2011 Harvard Business School Case Study, “Steadfast Leadership”, have become integral to leader development training for thousands of college students, corporate leaders, and others. Regarding Halstead, GEN (R) Dennis Reimer, 33rd Chief of Staff of the Army, said “She is a trailblazer, an enlightened leader, a consummate professional and most of all a role model for all—male or female.” [WATCH VIDEO]

Mr. Alex Gorsky ’82

LTG (R) Nadja Y. West ’82

“LTG (R) Nadja West deserves to be counted among the Distinguished Graduates of our Alma Mater,” says GEN (R) Martin Dempsey, the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “[She] exemplifies the balance of technical skill, leadership, and character that we seek in our officer corps.” West followed her brother, Class of 1976, to West Point, entering the Academy two years after service academies opened their doors to women. She initially branched Ordnance then was selected for medical school, training at George Washington University School of Medicine and later serving as a Medical Corps officer at Fort Benning, GA. West deployed with the 197th Infantry Brigade, 24th Infantry Division for Operation Desert Shield and was attached to the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment for Operation Desert Storm. She also deployed to the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo, serving as the Deputy Task Force surgeon for the 1st Armored Division. In 2013, West became the first Black female major general in Army medicine as well as the first Black female major general of the active-duty U.S. Army, a distinction she repeated when she was promoted to lieutenant general in 2015 upon being appointed the 44th Army Surgeon General. West retired from the Army in 2019 yet continued to serve in vital leadership positions. She served as a Hauser Leader at the Harvard Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership for the academic year 2019-20, was named to the Johnson & Johnson, Nucor and Tenet Boards of Directors in 2019 and 2020, and is currently a Distinguished Fellow of the Duke University Fuqua/Coach K Center on Leadership and Ethics. Nadja also serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations including the Bob Woodruff Foundation and Americares. “Nadja has broken new ground at every stage of her career, and she has done so with unblemished integrity, steadfast determination, and unmatched humility,” says ADM (R) James Stavridis, 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO. [WATCH VIDEO]

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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