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2003 Distinguished Graduate Award

Walter T. Kerwin, Jr. '39

A superb soldier and leader, Walter T. Kerwin, Jr. has given a lifetime of extraordinary service to the Army and the Nation. A man who embodies the ideals enshrined in the Academy's motto - Duty, Honor, Country - he is a truly distinguished member of the Long Gray Line.
After graduation from West Point in 1939 and commissioning as a Field Artillery officer, he was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division. While serving with that unit in WWII and participating in its campaigns in Africa, Sicily, Italy, and France, he established a reputation as an extremely skilled and innovative canoneer. Of particular note was a system he devised for massing the fires of all VI Corps Artillery units that contributed significantly to the success of the allied landings at Anzio.
Having been wounded in Mutzig, France, in December 1944, Walter Kerwin was evacuated to the United States, and once restored to health in 1945, assigned to the Theater Operations Division of the War Department's General Staff where he and his colleagues developed the Army's highest level war plans.
During the post-war years, he attended several service schools, including the Army War College and the National War College, and held a number of positions of ever-increasing responsibility, including Plans and Operations Officer at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, Commander of the 56th Artillery Group of the XVIII Airborne Corps, and Deputy Director in the Army's Office of the Chief of Research and Development.
In August of 1961, Walter Kerwin, now a Brigadier General, took command of the 3rd Armored Division Artillery in Hanau, Germany. It was the first of a series of senior leadership assignments, among them, Chief of Staff of the Military Assistance Command in Vietnam, Command of the II Field Force in Vietnam, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army for Personnel, and Commanding General of the Continental Army Command - later titled Forces Command. He met the challenges of each position brilliantly, and in the last of them in particular, he was able to effect broad changes for the better by installing revolutionary training methods, tightening up performance standards, and championing the notion of "one Army," the integration of Active, National Guard, and Reserve forces.
On 29 October 1974 Walter Kerwin took the oath as Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army. He spent the last four years of his career in uniform fulfilling the demanding duties of that position and in the process played a key role in the post-Vietnam rebuilding of the Army, which was now an all-volunteer force. Upon his retirement, General Kerwin received the Defense Department Distinguished Service Medal, a final tribute to the brilliant and steadfast performance of duty that had been previously recognized by three Army Distinguished Service Medals, two awards of the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, eleven awards of the Air Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat "V," and the Purple Heart.
After retirement, General Kerwin continued to work for the Department of Defense in a number of capacities. He also served for 17 years as a consultant for Martin Marietta Aerospace Corporation and the Lockheed Martin Corporation. Having been a member of the Board of Directors of the Army and Air Force Mutual Aid Association since 1969, he became its Chairman in 1982, and during a long stewardship that ended in 1997 he dramatically increased the organization's membership, the value of its assets, and the amount of its insurance in force. This work for the Army and Air Force Mutual Aid Association was emblematic of his deep involvement in and support for organizations that enhance America's military preparedness or concern themselves with the welfare of military men and women, including the Association of the United States Army, the Field Artillery Association, and the Army Emergency Relief Association.
Walter ("Dutch") Kerwin is a man whose accomplishments have earned him a place in the first rank of the Long Gray Line, and in recognition of his peerless service, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy takes pride in presenting him the 2003 Distinguished Graduate Award.

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