Deputy Defense Secretary Named Great American Patriot
By Annette Crawford
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORT WORTH, Texas, Dec. 24, 2006 Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England received the first Great American Patriot Award here last night at a halftime ceremony during the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England receives the first Great American Patriot Award from a representative of MA3 LLC at the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, Dec. 23. The University of Utah Utes defeated the Golden Hurricanes of the University of Tulsa, 25-13. The Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl is an event in partnership with America Supports You, a Defense Department program that showcases and facilitates American support for members of the armed forces. Photo by Annette Crawford
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
England, a Fort Worth resident, said he was very humbled by the award.
“Also in a way it’s a little bit embarrassing,” he said. “There should really be 1.2 million patriot awards. Patriot awards should be for all our magnificent men and women who serve our nation, so I accept this award on behalf of all of them, because they are the true patriots who protect and defend this country every day.”
England spoke of the importance of America Supports You, a Defense Department program that showcases and facilitates American support for members of the armed forces. The Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl is one of many events that has grown from partnering with America Supports You.
The program gives America an opportunity to support our military in their community, England said. “So often people ask me, ‘What can I do to help our military?’ I tell them, ‘Go to AmericaSupportsYou.com.’ It’s a way of connecting the military with the American people, and therefore it’s extraordinarily important,” he said.
England said he wanted to the troops to know how much he appreciated their unwavering commitment.
“I want to thank them for their great, great service to America, and what they do every day to protect our freedom and liberties,” he said. “If we did not have the United States military, Americans could not live the life they live every day.
“All our citizens owe our people in uniform. We owe them more than just a great deal. We owe them the life we live,” he said.
“I also want to wish them a very merry holiday, to them and their families,” England added.
After England received the award, more than 100 recruits from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines marched onto the field and he conducted their oath of enlistment.
The award was presented by Military Alliance and Associates LLC, known as MA3 LLC, as selected by the Military Affairs Committee of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. MA3 LLC is a military recruiting firm specializing in placing former military officers and NCOs into leadership positions in the private sector.
“Secretary England has displayed remarkable leadership in serving our country in three major defense-related departments the past five years,” said Tom Starr, executive director of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. “We are honored to give our first Great American Patriot Award to him.”
Starr added the bowl game was all about honoring servicemembers.
“This game is for them. We can’t thank them enough. Hopefully, in some small way, this game will do that,” he said.
Starr said Bell Helicopter’s sponsorship of the game has been extraordinary.
“Bell Helicopter stepped forward when we changed the name to the Armed Forces Bowl,” Starr said. “They have made a huge difference. They have been more than a partner.
“I’ve been in the bowl business 30 years,” Starr continued, “and I’ve never been so proud, seeing all these men and women in uniform. I was in Vietnam, so this touches my heart as well.”
The deputy defense secretary served in a variety of positions at Lockheed and General Dynamics before taking office as the 72nd secretary of the Navy in May 2001.
He then became the first deputy secretary of Homeland Security when that department was established in January 2003, integrating 22 agencies with a common mission of protecting the American people. He returned to his post and was confirmed as the 73rd secretary of the Navy in September 2003 – only the second person in history to serve twice as chief of the Navy-Marine Corps team and the first to serve in back-to-back terms. He assumed the Pentagon’s No. 2 post in an acting capacity in May 2005, and received a recess appointment to the position in January 2006. The Senate confirmed him in April 2006.
(Annette Crawford is assigned to Air Force Print News.)