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1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Col. Ross F. Nelson, U.S. Army Warrant Officer Career College commandant, inducts retired CW5 Robert J. Letendre into the Order of the Eagle Rising Society July 7 during a ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum. (Photo Credit: Jim Hughes) VIEW ORIGINAL
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2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Letendre with his spouse, Lucy, after the ceremony. The two have been married for 53 years. (Photo Credit: Jim Hughes) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- U.S. Army Warrant Officer Career College and Military Officers Association of America officials inducted the Order of the Eagle Rising Society's 23rd member during a ceremony July 7 at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.

Retired CW5 Robert J. Letendre, who served in the Army from 1966 to 1999, is “truly the epitome of the quiet professional," according to retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, MOAA president and CEO, and also guest speaker for the virtual event put out over Facebook Live.

“As I read his biography, it became very evident that he displayed highest standards of integrity, moral character and professional competency, and served the warrant officer community and the Army with great distinction,” Atkins said from a video connection broadcast on Facebook and in the museum. “His accomplishments and his awards are numerous, and he is well deserving of the Eagle Rising Society Award.”

Once Letendre’s career in the Army was over, he still had more to give, Atkins said.

“A life member of MOAA himself, he lives the MOAA mantra of never stop serving,” the CEO said. “He continued serving as a member of the Fort Stewart (Georgia) retired Soldier council and volunteering at the Orlando International Airport United Service Organization.

“He is about service: service to his team, service to his family and service to his community. He embraces mission and others first,” Atkins said. “Mr. Letendre, thank you for your dedication and your commitment to our nation, your selfless service and your leadership – then and now.”

Col. Ross F. Nelson, USAWOCC commandant, presented the award to Letendre, who then addressed the physical and virtual audiences.

“During the last decade of my career, I was honored and privileged to work with many fine senior warrant officers – and each and every one of them are just as deserving of this award,” Letendre said. “In fact, eight of my former cohorts are already members of this society.

“Some of the most gratifying work I’ve done with the Army, and much of it was mentioned before in my biography, was working on those study groups that helped to develop warrant officer training, leader development and the personnel management system to make our force of warrant officers the force multiplier it is in the Army,” he said. “Today, our warrant officers are not just recognized as technical and skilled experts, but they are also known for being advisers to commanders and being professional leaders. In fact, right now, we have senior warrant officers assigned to major Army command staffs, which has been a great leap from when I was on active duty.

“Last year, I was at the AUSA (Association of the U.S. Army) convention, and I hadn’t been in many years, so I was pleased to see that warrant officers were on the agenda and at the meetings. I spoke to some of them, and told them I was a WO5 back in 1995. Then, a young CW3 walked up to me and said, ‘Thank you for paving the way.’ That meant a lot to me.

“It really makes me proud of the work I was able to (accomplish) with some of my fellow senior warrant officers, to help bring the Army’s warrant officer corps up to the standard that is today,” Letendre added. “And this is just the beginning – there’s still a lot more that can be done. We’re always looking to advance and improve everything that we do.”

Letendre then thanked his family, including his wife of 53 years, Lucy.

“She has been faithfully supporting me all of that time,” he said. “And to my children, who endured multiple reassignments, including five PCSs in eight years, their strength and resilience in overcoming those challenges made it much easier for me to get my job done and not worry about them. They have their own families now, and I’m so proud of them and what they’ve accomplished in their lives.”

Established in 2004 as a joint venture between MOAA and the USAWOCC, the Order of the Eagle Rising Society annually recognizes one individual who has contributed significantly over his or her lifetime to the promotion of the warrant officer community in ways that stand out in the eyes of the recipient’s seniors, subordinates and peers, according to MOAA and WOCC officials.