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2003 Distinguished Graduate Award


During his career, John A. Hammack has compiled an extraordinary record of achievements, both in public service and private pursuits. He has shaped every aspect of his course in life with steadfast devotion to the principles expressed in the motto of the Military Academy: Duty, Honor, Country, and he has proved himself a distinguished graduate in every sense of the word.
Born in Mississippi and appointed to West Point from that state, Jack Hammack graduated in the top fifth of the Class of 1949 and was commissioned in the United States Air Force. After earning his pilot's wings, he served as one of a small, pioneering group of all-weather instrument aviation instructors at Moody Air Force Base. Following that, he went on to an assignment at West Point, where he served as Aide de Camp and pilot for the Superintendent, MG Frederick A. Irving.
In 1954, he resigned his commission and began a civilian career that has included endeavors in the fields of petroleum exploration and production, banking, and real estate. However, his service to the Nation did not end with his departure from the Air Force. In the early 1970's he was appointed as a Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense. While in that position, he set in place the petroleum delivery system that would finally enable the Elk Hills oil field to fulfill its strategic mission of supplying oil to cities on the West Coast of the United States. He also helped formulate a personnel policy that succeeded in recruiting talented members of minorities to work for the Department of Defense.
Back in his own community, he held numerous positions of public trust: President of the Dallas Petroleum Club, the Greater Dallas Crime Commission, and the Highland Park Independent School District Educational Foundation. He was also elected the Mayor of the Town of Highland Park, and during his tenure succeeded in unifying its police department, fire department, and other emergency service agencies, resulting in a significant savings for the municipality. Finally, he became the Vice Chairman of the Board of Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas.
While working to benefit his community in general, Jack Hammack devoted particular attention to those who were Academy alumni and to their families. He joined the West Point Society of North Texas and eventually became its President, assuring that during his tenure the strength and vitality of the organization and its programs would remain robust.
Then, in 1990, Jack Hammack was elected a Trustee at Large of the Association of Graduates. His service in that position was of such excellence that in 1993 he became the Association's Vice Chairman, and in 1997, its Chairman and CEO.
During his years as Chairman, the organization launched its first large-scale comprehensive fundraising effort, the Bicentennial Campaign for West Point. Aimed at providing for the "margin of excellence" needs of the Academy that would not be funded by the Federal Government, the Campaign achieved extraordinary success under Jack Hammack's superb leadership, eventually bringing in $220 million for a wide variety of programs and projects beneficial to West Point and the Corps of Cadets.
Jack Hammack also brought his leadership skills to bear on the planning and execution of the Academy's Bicentennial Celebration in 2002. He inspired his fellow graduates with his enthusiasm; he used his diplomacy to achieve agreement on complex and contested issues; and he provided wise guidance and counsel to literally hundreds of men and women working on various aspects of the undertaking. Having left the Chairmanship when 2002 arrived, he nonetheless was on hand to join in the Celebration and to take well-deserved credit as one of the key contributors to its success.
From the time he took office as Chairman until the day he stepped down from the position at the end of 2001, Jack Hammack essentially put his personal business affairs on hold. He was always available -- and was frequently called upon -- to travel from Texas to New York in order to deal with important AOG issues. He applied his business acumen to the governance and functioning of the organization. He served as the conduit for communication between the members of the extended West Point family and the Academy's leadership. He expanded the programs of services and support for alumni that had been set in place by his predecessor. In short, he gave his all to the Association of Graduates. And he achieved great things.
Through over fifty years of happy marriage to his wife Gloria and through decades of changes and challenge for the Nation, Jack Hammack's contributions to his fellow citizens, the Long Gray Line, and his Alma Mater have set a standard of performance and conduct against which future generations of West Point graduates will be measured.
Accordingly, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy takes pride in presenting the 2003 Distinguished Graduate Award to John A. Hammack.

Chairman and CEO