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Class Notes

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2005 Distinguished Graduate Award

LTG Frank A. Camm, January '43

Lieutenant General Frank A. Camm began his distinguished thirty-four year career as an Engineer officer with the 303rd Engineer Combat Battalion, fighting in the deadly Hurtgen Forest during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. In the Korean War, he commanded the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, and in his third war, he was instrumental in the installation of the "McNamara Line," an array of sophisticated electronic sensors, in Vietnam. When he retired in 1977, it was only to continue serving his country as Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency for Collection, followed by two years as Associate Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He then turned his boundless energies toward his groundbreaking role as President of the Army Retirement Residence Foundation and working with the Association of Graduates.

As a young Engineer officer in World War II, after fighting his company as Infantry and successfully frustrating the German attack through the Ardennes Forest towards Liege, Belgium, his 78th Infantry Division captured the strategically important Roer River dams, and his Engineers inspected them for explosive charges so that the Division could continue into the Rhine River Valley. Reaching the Ludendorf Bridge at Remagen, his company of Engineers was the first to cross the Rhine with all equipment. Then, taking advantage of captured enemy boats, he ferried wounded soldiers west and then brought artillery phone lines back east, giving the defending American forces access to accurate artillery fires to stop the initial enemy counterattack against the hastily assembled bridgehead. His leadership in these and other battles resulted in the award of three Bronze Stars, including one for valor.

After the war, he played a key role in the development of our Nation´s nuclear deterrence during the Cold War as a Sandia Pioneer, one of sixty Army officers hand picked by Lieutenant General Leslie R. Groves to assure the availability of technically reliable nuclear warheads for the Army, Navy, and Air Force delivery systems when the civilian nuclear scientists departed the famous Manhattan Project. He commanded the first atomic bomb assembly team, and it was singularly successful in its highly classified mission of ensuring that the complex, near-one-of-a-kind devices could be transported around the globe and quickly assembled until more rugged, mass-produced and reliable devices were forthcoming. He also played a key role in the nuclear tests in the Pacific.

Back in the trenches during the Korean War, in 1953-54 he commanded the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion and received another award of the Bronze Star.

In 1957-60, he served as the first nuclear planner in the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, War Plans, and during 1963-67 was director of Tactical Nuclear Warfare in the office of the Secretary of Defense. Involvement in his third hot war came during 1967-68 in Vietnam, when he was assigned as project manager of the highly sophisticated, electronic sensor-driven "McNamara Line." During the battle of Khe Sanh, he initiated the use of electronic sensors to detect enemy movement on the tactical battlefield, thereby permitting troops on the ground to bring accurate fire on the hidden enemy and inflict significant casualties.

As commander of the South Pacific Engineer Division in 1970-72, he was commended by the City of Los Angeles for his assistance in rescue operations during the disastrous San Fernando earthquake of 1971.

His final assignment in the nuclear arena was as the Director of Military Applications, Atomic Energy Commission, 1972-73. After additional duty on the Army staff and promotion to lieutenant general in 1975, he was assigned as Deputy Commanding General of the Training and Doctrine Command, responsible for twenty-six Army schools. Upon retirement in 1977, he immediately was appointed to head the collection of national human, signals, and photo intelligence for the Central Intelligence Agency until 1979, when the president appointed him to direct Civil Defense, Continuity of Government, Mobilization of Civilian Sector, the National Stockpile, and planning for natural disasters in the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Fully retired in 1981, he nonetheless immersed himself in three major projects. The first was as pro bono president of the Army Retirement Residence Foundation, resulting in the design and construction of The Fairfax, the flagship retirement community of more than fifty, now operated by Marriott. The second was the conception, design, and construction of Herbert Hall at West Point as a necessary and appropriate office for the greatly expanded activities of the Association of Graduates. Typically, he helped insure that the first major building program for the Association was brought in on time and within budget. Finally, he conceived and executed a physical embodiment of West Point´s motto, "Duty, Honor, Country," as the 50th Reunion gift of his class. "The Constitution Corner," as it is known, clearly demonstrates, through quotations from military oaths and key documents, the principles of selfless service to the Constitution that underlie the duties of all officers.

Accordingly, it is with great pride that the Association of Graduates presents the 2005 Distinguished Graduate Award to an officer of the highest ethical and professional standards, Frank Ambler Camm, Class of January 1943.

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