As a distinguished public servant, lawyer and business leader, James E. Webb has rendered a lifetime of outstanding service to the United States and its citizens. In positions of extraordinary responsibility in government, Mr. Webb has exemplified, through his accomplishments in the national interest and manner of achievement, the ideals of West Point expressed in the motto, “Duty, Honor, Country.”
In 1961 when the United States and much of the free world were reacting to the serious threat posed by Soviet Union advances in space technology, President Kennedy appointed Mr. Webb Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and gave him the mission of leading a national effort to land men on the moon and return them safely to earth within the decade. During the following, critical period Mr. Webb not only fulfilled that Presidential mandate but also through forceful leadership, dedication and an inquiring intellect he was in large measure responsible for the creation of a national environment and an interest in space science which led to an expanded understanding of our universe and solar system. Through his determined administration of a newly organized agency, he led the United States to the development of the necessary technological capability to place unmanned spacecraft on the surface of Mars and to fly other spacecraft to the limit of the then-known solar system, and beyond. Through those scientific, technological and leadership achievements of unique dimensions, Mr. Webb made an extraordinary contribution to the security and welfare of the United States.
Mr. Webb has also served with great distinction in other, diverse governmental positions. As a Marine Corps reserve officer for 37 years, as Director of the United States Bureau of the Budget, as Under Secretary of State and as a member of many commissions, committees and panels, he repeatedly responded to the call of duty and demonstrated an unusually broad understanding of the operation of government and private enterprise and their interrelationships.
Throughout his lifetime of service, as public servant and as private citizen, James E. Webb has made a remarkable record of accomplishment for his country. His willingness to serve when needed, his dedication to the advancement of our nation’s critical interests and his superb leadership symbolize and reflect the principles and ideals of West Point. Accordingly, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy hereby presents the 1981 Sylvanus Thayer Award to James Edwin Webb.