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2009 Distinguished Graduate Award

GEN (R) Thomas Allen Schwartz '67

Throughout a distinguished career of service to the United States Army and his country spanning thirty-five years, as a commander who always placed the welfare of his Soldiers and their families as a top priority, and as a leader whose every action epitomized the words of the United States Military Academy motto – Duty, Honor, Country – Thomas Allen Schwartz established a reputation for integrity, courage, and commitment that set a standard for others to emulate.

Commissioned in the Infantry upon graduation from West Point in 1967, Lieutenant Schwartz was assigned as a platoon leader and company executive officer with the 508th Airborne Infantry at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. A year later, he joined the 82nd Airborne Division in Vietnam as a platoon leader and company commander.  He was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action, the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.

Returning to the United States, Captain Schwartz was appointed aide-de-camp to the Commanding General, US Test and Evaluation Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.  After an assignment to the Armor School and a year at Duke University, where he obtained a Master’s Degree in Education,    Tom Schwartz returned to the United States Military Academy and served three years as a company tactical officer in the Department of Tactics.

Promoted to major, Tom Schwartz was appointed S-3, Headquarters 1/31 Infantry in Korea. In 1978 he began a three-year tour as a personnel management officer in the Army Military Personnel Center.  In 1981, Major Schwartz was assigned as executive officer for the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry in Germany, and later, as inspector general for the 1st Armored Division.  In May, 1983, Lieutenant Colonel Schwartz took command of the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry at Illesheim, Germany. Back in the United States in 1985, he graduated from the Naval War College in 1986, and was awarded a master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies. Appointed Chief, Infantry Branch, and later, Chief, Combat Arms Division, US Military Personnel Center in 1986, Colonel Schwartz left Washington to take command of the 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Carson, Colorado in 1988.  Two years later he was appointed Division Chief of Staff.

In 1991, Tom Schwartz was assigned to Korea, where he served as Chief of Staff, Combined Field Army, and in 1992 Brigadier General Schwartz became assistant division commander of the 2nd Infantry Division. In 1993, Major General Schwartz took command of Fort Carson and the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) until 1995, when he was promoted to lieutenant general and placed in command of Fort Hood and the III Corps.

General Schwartz became Commanding General, US Forces Command in 1998. In this assignment, he was instrumental in establishing the integration of active Army divisions with National Guard brigades. This decision, of far-reaching consequences, materially strengthened the US Army in overseas operations. His last active duty assignment was Commander in Chief, United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U S Forces Korea, a position he held from 1999 until he retired from active duty in 2002.  General Schwartz’s many decorations and awards include the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Air Medal.  The University of Maryland University College conferred an honorary Doctor of Law degree on General Schwartz at his change of command ceremony.

Tom Schwartz and his wife Sandy were a decisive force in establishing the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) in 1998. Dedicated to ensuring that the children of military parents receive the best education possible within their school district, this non-profit organization’s sole purpose is to ease transition issues facing military children.  General Schwartz has been Chairman of the Board since 2004, and in that year the MCEC was named Congressional Charity of the Year. With an annual budget of over three million dollars, the MCEC encompasses 329 military installations and 114 school districts throughout the world.  A board member of the MCEC said, “Tom Schwartz is a role model and a mentor.  He simply inspires you to do more.”

A classmate, former teammate, retired general officer and now, President of the University of Alaska, said this:  “I don’t know how a single man can balance humility and gentleness with valor and decisiveness, and balance family and friends with service and soldiers, and balance common sense and humor with intelligence and incisiveness. I don’t know a single man who can do that, but I know one who has:  Tom Schwartz.”

General Schwartz’s lifelong career of distinguished service made permanent and invaluable contributions to the welfare and security of this nation. With an uncommon devotion and selfless dedication to his country and the Army, Tom Schwartz exemplifies the finest qualities of the American Soldier.  Accordingly, the Association of Graduates takes great pride in presenting the 2009 Distinguished Graduate Award to Thomas Allen Schwartz.