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Class Notes

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2006 Distinguished Graduate Award



Lieutenant General Richard Greenleaf Trefry, Class of 1950, began his military career as an enlisted soldier during World War II before coming to the Academy; after graduation he served as a young Artillery officer in Germany, commanded an Artillery battalion in combat in Vietnam, added distinguished service in Laos, made major contributions in the Army personnel and management arena, and retired after six significant years as the Inspector General of the Army. He then continued his service to his country in a civilian capacity as a Senior Fellow of the Institute for Land Warfare, Military Assistant to the President of the United States during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and Program Manager for the Army Force Management System.

As an artillery battalion commander at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, in 1966, he was tasked to form a unit from Army-wide acquisitions, train for twelve weeks, and then deploy to Vietnam to support U.S. Marine Corps units at the Demilitarized Zone. In this unusual joint role, he led his unit wisely, met immense daily challenges, and saw his men awarded the Navy Presidential Unit Citation for their efforts.

In 1973, while concurrently commanding the Joint United States Military Assistance Advisory Group to Laos, and Defense Attaché to Laos, he contributed substantially to the defeat of a coup d´etat by Laotian Air Force officers in exile in Thailand against the Royal Lao government recognized by the United States.

He performed an essential service for West Point and the Nation during a dark time in 1976, when Congress seriously considered and narrowly defeated a measure that would have abolished the honor systems of all the service academies. From his position as the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel during the cheating scandal, he strongly supported the report of the Borman Commission and ensured that the suggested recommendations for change were supported by the Army leadership. The success of the implementation of The Hoffman Plan was a direct result of his commitment and dedication to Duty, Honor, and Country.

In 1977-1983, during his capstone military assignment as The Army Inspector General, he revolutionized the Army´s approach to the Annual Inspector General Inspection by transforming it from a compliance event into an inspection that identified and corrected systemic failings that inevitably led to recurring deficiencies and interfered with the ability of unit commanders to accomplish their missions. In essence, he perceived that the Army was expending considerable time and manpower to inspect all units annually but was missing opportunities to make significant management improvements that could save time, money, and lives. By encouraging openness and a commitment to identifying problems and fixing them at the appropriate level, he had a profound positive effect on the readiness of the Army and the morale of its soldiers and subordinate leaders. His impact was felt especially in the area of nuclear technical proficiency inspections where the goal of the inspection shifted from affixing micro blame to correcting macro processes. He accomplished all this by spending a great deal of time in the field, speaking with those who were the end users of the vehicles, weapons, ammunition, and other materiel of the Army and who would be tasked to employ them in the event of armed conflict.

In 1990-1992, as Military Assistant to the President of the United States, he directed the White House Military Office during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, serving as a military advisor to President Bush during those trying but ultimately victorious times.

In his capstone civilian assignment, as the founder and Program Manager of the Army Force Management School in 1995, he ensured that the Army always would have trained military and civilian personnel, well versed in the intricacies of complex force management issues and capable of making decisions and formulating policies to provide the quantity and quality of Army forces and materiel needed to meet the growing challenges facing the United States. More than 14,500 Army personnel have been trained in combat developments and management to meet these challenges at the school that he founded and managed, and their contribution has been substantial in the rapid transformation that the Army has undertaken in the past few years.

Lieutenant General Richard G. Trefry has devoted his entire life, from his beginnings as an enlisted soldier in World War II, through his years as a respected Tactical Officer at West Point through his time at the highest military and civilian levels in Washington to making the Army better. It has been said that no one had his depth of comprehensive knowledge of how all of the policies, processes, realities and imperatives of the Army worked together, no one was more capable of explaining how it could be improved, and no one has done more to contribute to its continued improvement for a more extended period of time.

Accordingly, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy takes great pride in presenting the 2006 Distinguished Graduate Award to Richard Greenleaf Trefry.