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1993 Distinguished Graduate Award


     As a distinguished soldier, professional military educator, peerless business leader and selfless public servant, Robert Francis McDermott has rendered a lifetime of extraordinary
service to the United States, to his Alma Mater and to his fellow citizens. In multiple fields of endeavor, Robert McDermott has exemplified outstanding devotion to the principles expressed in
the motto of West Point - Duty, Honor, Country.

     Graduating from West Point during the darkest hours of World War 11, Robert McDermott began a military career in aviation, soon marked with extraordinary accomplishment. Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army Air Corps, he attended flight training and was posted to the European Theater of Operations where, serving with courage and distinction, he flew sixty-one combat missions as a P-38 fighter pilot.

     During the years immediately following World War 11, he served as a personnel staff officer in positions of increasing responsibility in Europe and later, at Headquarters, Department of the Air Force. Receiving his MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration in 1 950, Robert McDermott was assigned as an Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at West
Point, a position he held until 1954.

     From 1954 to 1956, Robert McDermott was assigned as Professor of Economics and Vice Dean of the Faculty of the newly established United States Air Force Academy. In 1956 he was
appointed Dean of the Faculty. In 1959 he was promoted to Brigadier General and was appointed by President Eisenhower as the first permanent Dean of the Faculty, United States Air Force Academy. As Dean, General McDermott presided over the academic certification of the first 10 graduating classes from the Academy.  He designed the curriculum and introduced such
innovations as an academic majors program and the "whole person concept," composite criteria for selecting entering cadets. Many of his forward looking ideas influenced developmental changes both at West Point and at Annapolis as well.

     In 1968, General McDermott retired as Dean of the Faculty and from the Air Force and immediately began his equally distinguished career as the inspired leader of the United
Services Automobile Association in San Antonio, Texas.

     As Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, General McDermott has provided extraordinary leadership to USAA and to the  insurance industry. Under his astute guidance, USAA has become
the nations' 5th largest insurer of private automobiles. It is also the nations' 4th largest homeowner's insurer.

     General McDermott's service to the economic and business community has spread far beyond USAA. His impact on the economic life of his adopted city of San Antonio has been equally
dramatic. In 1974 he was elected Chairman of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. A year later he founded the Economic Development Foundation, an organization dedicated to bringing new business to the city. During the 1980's he led the development of biotechnology in San Antonio, serving as Chairman of the Texas Research and Technology Foundation. His continuing public service includes membership on the Board of Directors of the Texas
Department of Commerce and the Chairmanship of the San Antonio Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

     Throughout his varied and distinguished military and civil careers, General McDermott also has found time to serve West Point and his fellow graduates. As part of the Association's
leadership, he was instrumental in creating a lasting memorial to those West Pointers who, while serving their country in peace and war, gave their lives in flight. He presently serves as a Trustee
of the Association of Graduates.

     General McDermott's military accomplishments have earned him the Distinguished Service Medal, two Legions of Merit, the Bronze Star, Six Air Medals and other citations. His unprecedented contributions as Dean of the Faculty, during the formative years of the United States Air Force Academy, have earned for him the sobriquet, "Father of the Air Force Academy."

     His service with the civil sector also has been recognized. He was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 1987 and two years later, into the American National Business Hall of
Fame. Five universities have awarded him honorary doctorates. In 1988 the San Antonio Mayor, Henry Cesneros praised him as the most influential and important business leader of the decade of the 1980's.

     Throughout a lifetime of service to his country and to his fellow citizens, General McDermott has made lasting and invaluable contributions to the nation, its military establishment and its business sector. His life of selfless contribution exemplifies uncommon dedication and devotion to his country, to two of its finest military educational institutions, to the national insurance industry and to his fellow citizens, and clearly reflects the values expressed in the motto of West
Point. Accordingly the Association of Graduates takes great pride in presenting the 1993 Distinguished Graduate Award to Brigadier General Robert Francis McDermott, Class of January 1943.