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2006 Distinguished Graduate Award

Mr. Arthur E. Dewey '56

A distinguished soldier and aviator whose twenty-five years of military service included two combat tours in Southeast Asia, a humanitarian whose unremitting efforts on behalf of refugees and other victims of man-made disasters brought hope and saved countless lives throughout the world, and an Assistant Secretary of State who shaped and influenced policy decisions at the highest levels during some of the Nation´s most difficult hours, Gene Dewey has served with a lifelong commitment to the ideals expressed in the West Point motto: Duty, Honor, Country.

He graduated from West Point in 1956, was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers, and subsequently received his wings as an Army Aviator. His initial troop assignment was with a Combat Engineer Battalion in Germany where he served as battalion aviator and later as an engineer company commander. A master´s degree from Princeton followed, then participation in the first-ever self-deployment of an Army Aviation unit to an overseas destination in the movement of the 1st Aviation Company (Caribou) from Ft. Benning to Southeast Asia. The unit responded initially to a contingency in Thailand, then transferred to Vietnam in 1963 where Captain Dewey flew the Caribou into virtually all of the short, unimproved strips in that country in support of the U.S. advisory effort. During this tour, he flew over 1000 combat hours, and his unit was among the first to receive enemy fire in the Vietnam War.

Command of an engineer company at Fort Stewart and attendance at the Command and General Staff College were followed by a Pentagon tour in the Office, Chief of Research and Development. There Captain Dewey was promoted to Major and subsequently became Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General, Army Materiel Command. This extraordinary association with the Army´s top manager and problem-solver shaped Gene Dewey´s response to all of the military and civilian challenges that followed.

In 1968 he was selected as a White House Fellow and served as an Assistant to the Administrator of the Agency for International Development. During the Fellowship year, he significantly improved the effectiveness of the civilian relief effort to the victims of the Nigerian Civil War. He developed a major U.S. humanitarian initiative – the Cross River proposal – to deliver relief supplies into the surrounded Biafran enclave. He played a central role in the shuttle diplomacy seeking agreement to the proposal, and on the final day of his White House Fellowship, presided over the last meeting of the belligerents before the war ended.

He went back to the Vietnam War in 1970 and commanded the 222nd Combat Aviation Battalion – a composite unit of 500 men and 72 helicopters. During his command tour, his battalion gained the reputation as one of the Army´s most combat-effective units. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his overall command of the helicopter gun ships in a three nation combined prisoner rescue operation in Cambodia.

Lieutenant Colonel Dewey returned to Washington in 1971 to become director of the Nation´s senior leadership development program – the President´s Commission on White House Fellowships. He was selected for the Army War College in 1972, with assignment as an Army Research Associate at the Graduate Institute for International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. His second Pentagon assignment was in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations as Chief of the Political-Military Division; in 1975 he was designated a Senior Military Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; a year later, he became commanding officer of the U.S. Military Community in Heilbronn, Germany. This assignment was followed by selection as Defense Planner in the U.S. Mission to NATO. Colonel Dewey was back in the Pentagon for his final three years of military duty, where he served as Executive Officer to the Assistant Secretary of Defense, International Security Affairs. There he contributed significantly to the successful Theater Nuclear Force Program for Western Europe. In 1981, he accepted a civilian appointment from President Reagan as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Refugee Programs.

The Reagan era represented the Nation´s golden age in getting productivity out of United Nations agencies on behalf of emergency victims worldwide, and for getting unprecedented financial burden sharing on behalf of the American taxpayer. Gene Dewey was a major player in all of these operations during the "Refugee Decade" of the 1980´s. Responding to the horrific effects of war and famine in Africa in 1984, he succeeded in getting UN Secretary General Perez de Cuellar to create the UN Organization for Emergency Operations in Africa. This operation is known to this day as the finest hour of the United Nations, and it also served as a classic model for constructive United States/United Nations cooperation.

Early in 1986 Perez de Cuellar appointed Gene Dewey an Assistant Secretary General with assignment as UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland.

In 1991 Secretary of State Eagleburger asked Gene Dewey to head the newly created Office of Emergency Humanitarian Assistance for the former Soviet Union. His leadership and personal interventions were critical in U.S. efforts to bring stability and rehabilitation to the successor states of the USSR.

Beginning in 1993, he served for four years as director of an NGO – the Congressional Hunger Center. He led the Center in energizing a U.S. Government relief and water supply effort that saved tens of thousands of the one million refugees that fled from Rwanda to Goma, Zaire in July 1994. After the Congressional Hunger Center, he accepted a position as Professor in Residence at the Army Peacekeeping Institute at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.

The culmination of a lifetime of service to his country came in January 2002 when President Bush appointed him Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration. By the time of his retirement in June 2005, Gene Dewey had helped shape the return of over four million refugees to Afghanistan. To sustain this unprecedented homecoming, he took a page from President Roosevelt´s Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930´s depression and gained President Karzai´s support for an Afghan Conservation Corps that continues to provide jobs and hope for returnees and other needy Afghans. Secretary of State Colin Powell also assigned Gene Dewey a key role in facilitating the transition in Afghanistan from a Coalition military operation to an indigenous political authority. To close a long chapter of his own involvement in Southeast Asia, he negotiated with the Government of Vietnam the re-opening of the Orderly Departure Program for those Vietnamese penalized for their association with the United States who had not previously been able to avail themselves of the program. He worked tirelessly with senior Vietnamese officials to stop the persecution that still causes Highland tribes people to flee their country.

In the fifty years since his graduation from the Military Academy, Gene Dewey has used extraordinary opportunities for public service to model the core values of West Point in a long series of remarkable contributions, not only to his country, but equally important, to all of humanity.

Accordingly, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy takes great pride in presenting the 2006 Distinguished Graduate Award to Arthur Eugene Dewey.