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1997 Distinguished Graduate Award

GEN John R. Galvin '54

As a military commander, educator, author, and soldier-statesman, John Rogers Galvin has rendered a lifetime of extraordinary service to his country and to the international community of freedom-loving nations. In positions of great responsibility in the national interest of the United States, General Galvin has exemplified matchless devotion to the principles expressed in the motto of West Point: DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY.
General Galvin’s contributions to the security of the United States and the Western Alliance are without parallel. His 38 years of commissioned service are replete with extraordinary accomplishments.
As a junior officer, he mastered his craft, serving with light infantry and airborne units. At the same time, he began his lifelong contribution to higher education, earning a Master’s degree at Columbia University in preparation for assignment to West Point in the Department of English.
In the late 60s, he served two tours in Vietnam, first as an operations officer with the 1st Cavalry Division and later as Commander of the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry. Leading his battalion in combat, he distinguished himself, earning the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Soldier’s Medal, three Bronze Stars, and the Air Medal with Valor Device.
During the middle years of his military career, General Galvin perfected his military competence and leadership skills in a succession of key assignments, as a high-level staff officer and major unit commander. In 1975, he commanded the 3rd Infantry Division Support Command in Germany. He then served as Division Chief of Staff. Promoted to Brigadier General in 1978, he was assigned Assistant Division Commander of the 8th Infantry Division. Having proved himself a seasoned and imaginative troop unit commander, he was selected to command the 24th Infantry Division. As Commander, he designed and implemented innovative training and maintenance programs which dramatically improved unit combat readiness of the division.
In recognition of his highly successful divisional command, he was chosen to command the Seventh Corps in Germany.
In 1985, he was promoted to General and designated Commander-in-Chief of the United States Southern Command, where he soon gained a reputation as a consummate soldier-statesman.
Two years later, the Allied Nations of NATO selected General Galvin as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. In his five years of leadership of the Western Alliance, NATO became stronger than at any time in its history, and as a peaceful alliance of strength assured the victory of the West in the Cold War. While at NATO, General Galvin played a key role in some of the defining issues of the post Cold War era — supporting the Gulf War; the Patriot Missile defense of Israel; the rescue of 450,000 Kurdish refugees in Northern Iraq; East-West negotiations on arms control, redesigning NATO strategy; supporting military operations in Zaire, Liberia, and other African nations; and humanitarian support for Central and Eastern Europe.
Upon his retirement as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, General Galvin received the highest praise and honors from the member nations of the Alliance. His own nation added its recognition, awarding him the Defense, Army, Air Force, and Navy Distinguished Service Medals, and citing him for his strategic and operational genius, and his clear vision and statesmanship during a period of unprecedented change and instability.
Retirement from active Army service did not bring retirement from service to his country. Continuing his collateral career in higher education, General Galvin was selected as the Olin Distinguished Professor of National Security at West Point in 1992. In 1994, he became Distinguished Visiting Policy Analyst, Mershon Center, at Ohio State University.
While with Ohio State, his unique reputation as one of America’s premier soldier-statesmen was recognized. General Galvin again responded to his nation’s call to serve as a key State Department negotiator and envoy, with the rank of Ambassador, in our nation’s efforts to forge a peaceful resolution of the bitter internecine conflict in Bosnia. In 1995, he was selected as the sixth Dean of the prestigious Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.
General Galvin is a published author-historian and a member of the boards of numerous public service and corporate organizations.
Throughout a lifetime of service to his country and to his fellow citizens, General Galvin has made lasting and invaluable contributions to the welfare and security of the United States and the nations of the free world. His life of selfless accomplishment exemplifies uncommon dedication and devotion to his country and clearly reflects the cherished values expressed in the motto of West Point.
Accordingly, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy hereby presents the 1997 Distinguished Graduate Award to General John Rogers Galvin, Class of 1954.

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