Hope Award Recognizes Selfless Service to Servicemembers
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2007 The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard each honored one of their own at a Pentagon ceremony today with an award named for actor-comedian Bob Hope.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. hosted the Spirit of Hope Awards ceremony.
The award honors Hope’s values of duty, honor, courage, loyalty, commitment, integrity and selfless dedication, said Michael Kagin, the award’s originator. It recognizes individuals or organizations who have “selflessly contributed an extraordinary amount of time, talent or resources to significantly enhance the quality of life of servicemembers around the world,” he said.
Bob Hope traveled the world under the United Service Organizations banner to entertain American servicemembers wherever they were stationed. His first USO show was at March Field, Calif., in 1941, and his last USO tour entertained forces in the Persian Gulf War in 1990. The U.S. Congress recognized Hope at an honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces. He died in 2003, two months after his 100th birthday.
The Army recognized retired Chaplain (Col.) Lyle Metzler for his lifelong contributions. Metzler served two tours in Vietnam as a Special Forces officer. He retired from the military and became a chaplain, where he became dedicated to working with soldiers and their families. In 2005, he volunteered to serve as chaplain for the 145th Medical Battalion and its five associated units as it deployed to Afghanistan. He served as a personal mentor and counselor to several soldiers and their families.
The Navy honored James W. Carrier for his efforts to improve the lives of veterans and for aid to wounded warriors. Carrier helped to raise $40 million for the Center for the Intrepid wounded warrior rehabilitation facility at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and for the Fisher House Foundation, which builds housing so the relatives of wounded servicemembers can visit them as they recover. He also raised money for the Navy SEAL Warrior Fund.
Air Force Master Sgt. Louis D. Pell received the award for a lifetime of outreach to airmen and veterans. Assigned to Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., Pell coordinated and participated in many volunteer efforts, including blood drives, muscular dystrophy fundraising and reading to elementary school students.
The Marine Corps recognized the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund for its efforts to provide financial assistance to Marines injured in combat or training. With the generosity and support of the American people, the group – founded by Marine spouses around a kitchen table in 2004 – has provided more than $9.4 million in assistance to more than 1,700 servicemembers. One of the group’s co-founders – Wendy Lethin – received the award on behalf of the fund.
Coast Guardsman Marvin J. Perrett received his award posthumously. He piloted a Higgins boat in the invasions of Normandy, Iwo Jima and Okinawa during World War II. After the war, he returned to his native New Orleans and became a leader in establishing the National World War II Museum there. Perrett traveled the country telling a new generation the Coast Guard’s story.
Casey recalled that Bob Hope received the Sylvanus Thayer Award in 1968 at West Point. In his speech, the comedian said that “living in America is a great privilege. The only thing greater is that wonderful feeling in your heart when you know that you deserve that privilege, that you have paid for your little slice of freedom.”
Casey said that much has changed since 1968, when the West Point class was ready to deploy to Vietnam. “We’re fighting a different war, we’re fighting a different enemy, but what America stands for – life liberty and the pursuit of happiness – has remained constant,” Casey said. “And our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and their families are bearing a heavy burden now after six years of war. (The honorees’) efforts are especially worthy of note and recognition. They epitomize the values of Bob Hope.”