FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Army News Service, Oct. 15, 2008) - The Command and General Staff College's International Hall of Fame inducted four senior officers Oct. 2 from Kenya, Trinidad and Tobago, Romania, and the Netherlands.
Aca,!Ac Gen. Jeremiah Kianga, chief of the General Staff of Kenya
Aca,!Ac Lt. Gen. Robert Bertholee, commander, Royal Netherlands Army
Aca,!Ac Lt. Gen. Teodor Frunzeti, chief of Romanian Land Forces
Aca,!Ac Brig. Gen. Edmund Dillon, chief of Defence Staff, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force.
The hall of fame was established in 1973 by CGSC, the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars and the CGSC Alumni Association. Inductees are international graduates of CGSC who have attained one of the highest positions of military importance in their country's armed forces.
Before Oct. 2, 226 CGSC graduates representing 62 countries had been inducted. Fifteen IHOF inductees have also become heads of state in their respective countries.
During the ceremony, inductees were presented a CGSC honor certificate by the MOWW representative and a Life Constituent Certificate and eagle statuette from the CGSC Foundation. Each inductee joined Fort Leavenworth and Combined Arms Center Commander Lt. Gen. William Caldwell IV to reveal a framed portrait of themselves. The portraits will hang in the International Hall of Fame on the third floor of Lewis and Clark Center.
Caldwell said the inductees join the ranks of other distinguished officers in the IHOF. Of the more than 7,000 international students who have graduated from CGSC, only 226 have been inducted into the International Hall of Fame.
"That's about 3 percent," Caldwell said. "When you consider that over 50 percent of those 7,000 international students went on to make general officer, it makes this recognition today even that much more significant."
Caldwell recognized the sponsors who help the students and their families during their year at Fort Leavenworth.
"For decades, two organizations, Operation International, a committee of Leavenworth-Lansing Chamber of Commerce, and the Greater Kansas City Chapter of People to People International, have touched the lives of our international students and their families," Caldwell said. "They continue to carry on a legacy ... cementing incredibly strong bonds between our international military students and those back here in the United States that have lasted 20-30 years later."
Kianga, the 227th inductee into the IHOF, graduated from CGSC in 1986. He is the second graduate from Kenya to be inducted. Kianga was one of 98 international students from 61 countries in his class. Thirty-five of the 98 have become general officers. To date, 59 officers from Kenya have attended CGSC and 12 of those have become general officers.
Kianga joined his nation's military in 1971. He has served in command, staff and instructional positions at every level in the Kenyan Armed Forces. In 2003 Kianga was appointed commander of the Kenyan Army, and in 2005 he was appointed the chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Kenya.
Caldwell said Kianga has been described by his colleagues and friends as a very studious, quiet professional.
"Our sincerest congratulations go out to you and your family, sir, to your nation," Caldwell said. "And I just want to say thank you for your relationship and the continued interaction that you have had with us here in the United States of America."
Kianga thanked Caldwell, the CGSC Foundation and his sponsors. He said it was difficult for him to express all the emotions he was feeling.
"Let me say how glad I am for what has happened to this college," Kianga said. "A lot of changes have taken place, all of them positive."
Kianga said he visited the former home of CGSC, Bell Hall, Oct. 1 and reminisced about the old Eisenhower Auditorium, nicknamed the "Big Blue Bedroom" for the tendency for students to fall asleep during briefings there.
"I am told it (the new auditorium) is not so user friendly for bedroom use," Kianga said. "So you might have to find another name for it, and what a pity."
He said what has impressed him most is the progressive nature the college has retained over the years.
"I was particularly impressed to learn that you have in recent past invited African practitioners of irregular warfare ... to this college," Kianga said. "I think this is a very progressive move."
To the students of CGSC, Kianga said, the reputation of the college would precede them - he said it preceded him. He said CGSC is an institution highly respected throughout the world.
"You can use this to your advantage," Kianga said.
The 228th IHOF inductee, Bertholee, graduated from CGSC in 1992. He is the fourth graduate from the Netherlands to be inducted. Bertholee was one of 90 international students from 68 countries in his class, 17 of whom have become general officers. He is one of 50 officers from the Netherlands to graduate from CGSC and 28 of those have become general officers.
Bertholee joined his nation's military in 1979. He has held command and staff positions at all levels of the Royal Netherlands Army and the Defense Staff. He assumed command of the Royal Netherlands Army March 3.
Caldwell said Bertholee's extraordinary talent to cooperate with agencies made him invaluable to the defense staff as well as executing his NATO assignments.
"This ability, along with his unique language skills, has made him very successful in leading Dutch, German and other soldiers from many nationalities in operations in both Kosovo and Afghanistan," Caldwell said.
Bertholee said he was deeply honored about being inducted into the IHOF. He said he was a little bit worried, not about the ceremony, but about the photos that would be included in the slideshow from his time at Fort Leavenworth.
"I think you didn't make it too hard on me," Bertholee said.
Bertholee thanked his sponsors and his former landlady who became a good friend, often babysitting his daughter when he and his wife were at social events.
"What we found is that the friendships that started in that year have held over the years," Bertholee said. "There must be something special about Leavenworth that makes friendships like that last for such a long time and in such a way."
Bertholee said there was one thing, looking back, he was a little disappointed about.
"No matter how hard they tried, nobody was ever able to make me understand the rules of American football." Bertholee said. "And I'm not sure whether to blame the college for that or not."
Bertholee said the year in Leavenworth enriched his life and the lives of his family. He said the education and relationships were a support throughout his career.
"You can be assured that I am humbled and proud, at the same time, of the honor that was bestowed on me here today," Bertholee said.
The 229th IHOF inductee, Frunzeti, graduated from CGSC in 1998. He is one of 90 international students representing 75 countries in his class, two of whom have become general officers. One of 14 Romanian officers to graduate from CGSC, he is the only one to achieve the rank of general and the first Romanian graduate to be inducted into the IHOF.
Frunzeti was commissioned as an officer from the Romanian Military Academy in 1977. He has held command and staff positions at all level of the Romanian Army. Frunzeti has two doctorate degrees, speaks multiple languages and has published 16 books.
"He has made regular visits to see the Romanian soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq," Caldwell said. "You have a distinguished career, sir."
Frunzeti said his year at CGSC was a great and positive experience.
"It's a unique opportunity to exchange views and different opinions," Frunzeti said.
The world today is challenging, Frunzeti said. He said it is important to belong to the same family.
"It is important to share values and to share opinions and to have similar views," Frunzeti said.
Frunzeti thanked his sponsors for the opportunity to go deeper into U.S. culture. He said it was important to make friends while in the United States, but also to keep the relationships and benefit from them.
Dillon, the 230th inductee, graduated from CGSC in 2001. He was one of 92 international students from 80 counties that year, and the first to achieve the rank of general officer. Dillon is one of nine officers from Trinidad and Tobago to attend CGSC. He is the first IHOF inductee from the class of 2001.
Dillon enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1974 and accepted a commission in 1978. He has commanded and served on staff at every level in the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Forces.
"Being our first International Hall of Fame inductee from the class of 2001 is a tremendous accomplishment," Caldwell said. "And I do want to congratulate you again for that. And, I want to say thank you for what you have continued to do ... maintaining that relationship not only with us here in the United States Army, but our military and with our international partners."
"Since 2001 ... the world has changed dramatically," Dillon said.
He said he didn't think anyone in his class knew that a short time after graduation the U.S. and the world would be subjected to such a dynamic and dramatic experience.
"My United States classmates ... literally moved from the classroom to the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq," Dillon said.
Dillon said when he was told his year at CGSC would be the best year of his life, he said to himself "someone must be joking."
"How can a year of studies, homework, exams of summer heat and winter cold be the best year of my life," Dillon said. "If fact, it was only coming to the end of my time that my family and I truly realized how much we had a wonderful time here at Leavenworth."
(Tisha Johnson writes for the Fort Leavenworth Lamp newspaper.)