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2008 Distinguished Graduate Award

GEN Wallace H. Nutting '50


As a soldier, statesman, educator, and civic leader, Wallace Hall Nutting has served his country with integrity and distinction throughout a lifetime of dedicated service and achievement.  In successive positions of increasing responsibility from second lieutenant through the rank of general, his career has exemplified lifelong commitment to the principles expressed in the motto of the United States Military Academy:  Duty, Honor, Country.

Wally Nutting entered West Point with the Class of 1950.  As a cadet, he played both football and lacrosse and upon graduation, he was commissioned in the Cavalry.  In 1950-1951, he was assigned to a tank platoon in the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea.  An exceptional leader, he was decorated with the Silver Star, the Soldier’s Medal, and was twice wounded in action.

After returning to the United States, Lieutenant Nutting was assigned to the Armor Officer Candidate School at Fort Knox, Kentucky where he served as a tactical officer and later, as Aide-de-Camp to the Assistant Commandant of the Armor School. A year later, having been promoted to captain, he commanded a tank company in the 4th Armored Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

In 1956, he was assigned to Germany where he became a regimental staff officer in Plans and Operations, 3rd Armored Cavalry and later took command of an Armored Cavalry Troop and served as battalion operations officer, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. From 1959–1962, Major Nutting served as a tactical officer in the Department of Tactics at West Point. He was selected to attend the Naval War College in 1962, and during his year there, he was awarded a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from George Washington University.

From 1963-1966, Wally Nutting was assigned to the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he was an author and instructor in Joint and Combined Operations.  In 1966, he assumed command of the 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington.  Lieutenant Colonel Nutting trained the unit and deployed with it to Vietnam.  He commanded the unit in combat and completed his tour as Operations Officer, First Field Force. Awarded the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and Air Medal, he returned to attend the NationalWarCollege in 1967 and then became Assistant Director of Plans, Headquarters, Department of the Army.

By 1970, Colonel Nutting was again in Vietnam, this time commanding the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and then as Deputy Commander for Operations, First Brigade, 5th Infantry Division. Back in the Pentagon after this second tour in Vietnam, Colonel Nutting served as Army member, Chairman’s Staff Group under the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In 1973, after promotion to brigadier general, he returned to Army Staff as Deputy Director of Plans.  In 1974 he assumed command of the 1st Infantry Division (Forward) in Germany. Back in Washington in 1975, he served as Director of Strategy, Plans, and Policy on Army Staff and concurrently as US Army Representative and Chief of the US Delegation, Inter-American Defense Board, and Joint US – Brazil –Mexican Defense Commissions. General Nutting was also a member of the Joint Board on Defense, Canada and the United States.  In 1977, Major General Nutting returned to Germany to command the 3rd Armored Division. The Commander of the Division Support Command (later a four-star general) said of him:  “I have not served with a finer leader in my nearly 34 years of service – or since.”

The year 1979 brought him an appointment as Commander, US Southern Command. Four years later, with his unprecedented selection as Commander in Chief, US Readiness Command, he became the first officer to command two of these combatant organizations so vital to our national defense.  In 1985, Wally Nutting retired with the rank of General, and for the second time was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.

Ambler M. Moss, Jr. served as Ambassador to Panama when Wally Nutting was CINC, SOUTHCOM.  Ambassador Moss recalls, “The times were challenging…the security issues too numerous to mention. It is no exaggeration to say that Wally Nutting set the tone and policies for SOUTHCOM’s successful management of the Panama Canal treaties.  His example inspired a new generation of Panamanians.”

General John W. Vessey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during this period said of General Nutting, “Truth was at the heart of every report received from him.” A former Army Chief of Staff said, “Wally’s views were always among the best provided to the Secretary of Defense…he had an enduring reputation for 24 karat character and integrity.”

Wally Nutting is a proud citizen of the State of Maine, and both of its US Senators laud his commitment to service.  Senator Susan Collins said, “I am equally impressed and grateful for General Nutting’s extraordinary commitment to public service.  He has sought out opportunities to serve and lead the people of Maine, and has done so in a way that set a powerful example of public service.”

In 2003, Wally was urged to run for mayor in Biddeford, Maine. Elected, he ran again two years later, unopposed.  The president of the Biddeford-Saco Chamber of Commerce said, “General Nutting has set the bar to a new, higher level.  He has done it by deeds, not words.  He has led by example, and his legacy will be one of outstanding achievement.”

Throughout a lifetime of service to his country, Wally Nutting has made permanent and invaluable contributions to the security and freedom of the United States.  As a civic leader and educator, his diplomatic skills, political acumen, and selfless concern for his fellow man set standards that few can emulate.

Accordingly, the West Point Association of Graduates takes great pride in presenting the 2008 Distinguished Graduate Award to Wallace H. Nutting.