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Career Ambassador Ryan Crocker To Receive 2020 Sylvanus Thayer Award

2017 Thayer Award Presented to Former President George W. BushThe West Point Association of Graduates is pleased to announce that six-time U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker will receive the 2020 Sylvanus Thayer Award. The award will be presented on October 1, 2020 during ceremonies hosted by Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, Class of 1983, 60th Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

West Point Association of Graduates Board Chairman Lt. Gen. (USA, Ret.) Joseph E. DeFrancisco, Class of 1965, said, “The West Point Association of Graduates is honored to present the Thayer Award to Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Ambassador Crocker’s distinguished service to our country spans more than 40 years, starting in 1971 as a Foreign Service Officer. During his service, he excelled many significant assignments, including reestablishing an American diplomatic presence in Afghanistan during the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom and assisting in the formation of the Iraq Governing Council, the first Iraqi governing structure after the defeat of Saddam Hussein. Without question, Ambassador Crocker’s career stands as an exemplar of Duty, Honor, Country, making him a most worthy selection of our highest award.”

“I’ve had the privilege of serving with many West Point graduates during my career and understand the values to which they dedicated their lives,” said Ambassador Crocker. “I am truly humbled to receive an award reflecting these values.”

Crocker was born in Spokane, Washington, where he maintains his residency. He grew up in an Air Force family. In addition to schooling in the United States, Crocker attended schools in Morocco, Canada, and Turkey. He also studied at University College Dublin, where he is an Honorary Fellow of the Literary and Historical Society and the recipient of the James Joyce Award. In 1971, he received a B.A. in English from Whitman College and joined the U.S. Foreign Service shortly after graduation. A year later, he was assigned to the American Consulate in Khorramshahr, Iran. In 1974, he was appointed to the newly established embassy in Qatar. Two years later, he returned to Washington, DC, and completed an intensive training program in Arabic. After an assignment as Chief of the economic-commercial section at the U.S. Interests Section in Baghdad, Iraq, Crocker served in Beirut, Lebanon, as Chief of the political section from 1981 to 1984. During his term in Beirut, he witnessed the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the Marine barracks bombing in 1983. He survived the bombing of the U.S. Embassy the same year.

Crocker’s first assignment as an Ambassador came in 1990 when he returned to Lebanon to reopen the U.S. Embassy, which had been closed 18 months earlier due to the threat of attack. His next Ambassadorial assignment came in 1994 when he was sent to Kuwait to help rebuild the institutions of a state that been invaded by the Iraqi army earlier in the decade. In 1998, Crocker was sent to Syria, where he helped organize and participated in the first direct Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations. After serving as an interim envoy to the new government in Afghanistan, Crocker became Ambassador to Pakistan in 2004. He retired from the State Department and the Foreign Service in 2009 after serving as the Ambassador to Iraq during the “Surge,” but he came out of retirement in 2011 to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, playing a key role in negotiating a historic Strategic Partnership Agreement and sustaining security gains achieved via an increase of U.S. and coalition forces. Crocker served a total of 14 years as a U.S. Ambassador in six countries for four presidential administrations. In September 2004, President Bush conferred on him the diplomatic rank of Career Ambassador, the highest rank in the Foreign Service, equivalent to a four-star officer in the military.

In addition to his diplomatic posts, Crocker has held various academic positions. He spent 1983-84 at Princeton University as a mid-career fellow. Approximately 25 years later, he became the Dean of the George H.W. Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. He has also had appointments as the James Schlesinger Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia and as the first Kissinger Senior Fellow School at Yale University. Crocker is currently a Diplomat in Residence at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School.

Crocker is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, in 2009. He is also a recipient of the Presidential Distinguished and Meritorious Service Awards, a two-time recipient of the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award as well as the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service. He also holds the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award, Award for Valor, three Superior Honor Awards, and the American Foreign Service Association Rivkin Award. He has received the U.S. Naval Academy’s Bancroft Award, the National Clandestine Service’s Donovan Award, the Director of Central Intelligence’s Director’s Award, and the Marshall Medal by the Association of the United States Army. In 2012, he was named an Honorary Marine, the 75th civilian so honored in the history of the Corps. Finally, Crocker has received honorary doctorates from Whitman College, Gonzaga University, Seton Hall University, the National Defense University, and the American University of Afghanistan. He is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, the American Academy of Diplomacy, and the Association of American Ambassadors. In 2013, he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and he is also on the Board of Directors for Mercy Corps International and is a Trustee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.