Wolfowitz Accepts Patriot Award on U.S. Defense Team's Behalf
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2003 Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz accepted the 2003 American Patriot Award Dec. 5 "on behalf of our fallen heroes" and "the hundreds of thousands of men and women in uniform and all of those that support them," including defense civilians and contractors.
The award, sponsored by the National Defense University Foundation, was previously issued to former President George H.W. Bush, now-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.
More than 700 people - including members of Congress and other senior civilian and military officials - attended the gala award dinner held at the Reagan Building here. Brett Baier, Pentagon correspondent for Fox News, was master of ceremonies.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz talks with Joyce Rumsfeld, left, spouse of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, as Brett Baier, Pentagon correspondent for Fox News, looks on Dec. 5 during the American Patriot Award dinner at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington. At right are Mary Jo Myers and her spouse, Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, . Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
President George W. Bush provided his thanks for the award via videotaped comments, noting America's military members perform "the highest form of citizenship" during the war against terrorism.
Bush praised U.S. service members' skill, strength and spirit, saying, "The future of freedom and peace depends on the actions of America."
During his acceptance speech, Wolfowitz highlighted the sacrifices made by America's service members and their families in prosecuting the global war on terrorism.
American forces are operating in austere conditions and fighting in far-flung locales like Afghanistan and Iraq, Wolfowitz said, "so that our children won't meet the enemy in Washington or New York."
Some service members "have gone to war and not returned," Wolfowitz acknowledged, noting, "They gave their last full measure of devotion for their country and for a just and noble cause."
Those sacrifices, the deputy secretary pointed out, should act as an inspiration "to rededicate ourselves to the job that they have so nobly begun."
That ongoing task, noted Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who also took part in the program, is to confront terrorism, "perhaps the greatest threat this nation has ever faced."
Members of the U.S. military, volunteers all, are serving their country, Myers continued, "because they refuse to allow international terrorist groups to instill fear in Americans and other freedom-loving people around the world."
The Joint Chiefs chairman saluted America's service members as "an inspiring, dedicated force" that humbly goes about its business. "They're unpretentious, they're mostly anonymous -- and they're damned good," he concluded.
Myers' spouse, Mary Jo, also attended the award dinner, along with Joyce Rumsfeld, wife of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who was away on an overseas trip.
In her remarks, Mrs. Myers saluted "those many family members who deal with a thousand details of daily life, who keep the faith, who love that soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, Coast Guardsman or mariner, because they love and defend their country." "They also serve and sacrifice," she asserted.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Paul G. Cerjan, president and chief executive officer of the National Defense University Foundation, praised the contributions of the active-duty and reserve-component service members, including the Coast Guard and Merchant Marine.
Cerjan also introduced the services' senior noncommissioned officers: Sgt. Major of the Army Jack Tilley; Sgt. Major of the Marine Corps John Estrada; Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Terry Scott; Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Gerald Murray; and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Frank Welch.
The selfless service and leadership of the noncommissioned officer corps, Cerjan declared, constitute "the backbone of the uniformed component of our defense team."
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Rebecca A. Mulvain was an attendee at the award dinner. An administration specialist, she deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Mulvain said her group handled Navy personnel actions, flight scheduling and supply operations in theater. The petty officer said she also operated a cargo crane, noting her unit had unloaded more than a million tons of supplies for the Marines.
"We went over there to keep peace over here, to keep the terrorists at bay," declared Mulvain, now stationed in Norfolk, Va.
The National Defense University Foundation was established in 1982 to support and enhance the mission and goals of the National Defense University.
NDU, located at Fort McNair in Washington is the U.S. military's top academic facility for military, civilian and diplomatic national security education, research, outreach and strategic studies.