By Eric S. Bartelt, Pointer ViewMay 14, 2010
WEST POINT, N.Y. (May 13, 2010) -- The West Point Association of Graduates honors five distinguished graduates at 11 a.m. May 18 during the alumni exercise and review ceremony on the Plain.
The distinguished graduate honor was first awarded in 1992. Awardees are nominated by presidents of West Point societies and U.S. Military Academy classes and are chosen by a WPAOG committee. The committee selected retired Lt. Gen. Frederic J. Brown, retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, retired Lt. Gen. Daniel W. Christman, former Secretary of the Army Thomas E. White, Jr. and Ambassador Robert M. Kimmitt as this year's distinguished graduates.
Frederic J. Brown, Class of 1956: Brown was commissioned into the armor branch and served in the 1/33rd Armored Battalion in Germany to begin his 32 years of active duty service.
Brown furthered his education as an Olmstead Scholar at the University of Geneva, where he earned a Master's degree in Political Science in 1963 and a Ph.D. in 1967. His professionalism and bravery were manifested during two combat tours in Vietnam. During his assignments with 2/2nd Infantry and 1/4th Cavalry, he earned the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal of Valor. Throughout the years, Brown served on the Army staff, the Joint staff and the National Security Council staff.
In 1973, he was appointed as interim Deputy Chief of Staff for President Richard M. Nixon. He later served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Training of the Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va., from 1981-82. From 1983-86, he served as commander of the Armor Center at Fort Knox, Ky., and then finished his military career as the commanding general of the 4th U.S. Army from 1986-89.
Brown was credited as having a major influence on modernizing armored units while Chief of Armor and Cavalry and was the architect of the mounted force that fought and won Desert Storm.
Barry R. McCaffrey, Class of 1964: McCaffrey was commissioned into the infantry and began a 32-year military service career that included four combat tours-one in the Dominican Republic, two in Vietnam and one in Iraq. He earned three Purple Hearts for wounds received in combat. He earned the Combat Infantryman's Badge and Bronze Star as a parachute infantry platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne Division during the Organization of American States' intervention in the Dominican Republic. Years later, as a rifle company commander, he was awarded two Silver Stars for exceptional valor. He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross twice for extraordinary heroism in Vietnam.
In 1970, McCaffrey received a Master of Arts degree in Civil Government from American University and returned to the academy to teach. During his final combat tour, as commanding general of the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized), he led a remarkable 370-kilometer left-hook attack into Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. For this bold maneuver, McCaffrey was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. As a general, McCaffrey served as the Special Assistant to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell. In his last position before retirement, McCaffrey was
the Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Southern Command.
After retirement from military service, President Bill Clinton chose McCaffrey to serve as Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in 1996. In 2001, he continued his commitment to West Point by becoming the Bradley Distinguished Professor of International Security Studies, where he developed a course in international security for the top 20 junior and senior cadets from all academic departments. After leaving the Bradley Chair in 2005, he continued as the Adjunct Professor of International Affairs in the Department of Social Sciences.
He was inducted into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame in 2007. Currently, he serves as a military analyst for NBC News, where he helps explain complex national security issues to the American public. He is also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and is on the Board of Advisors of the National Infantry Foundation.
Daniel W. Christman, Class of 1965: Christman graduated West Point at the top of his class. He subsequently earned two master's degrees from Princeton University, in public affairs and civil engineering, and also graduated with honors from the George Washington University Law School.
While his career showed off his remarkable intellect and extraordinary character, it was his return to West Point that put an exclamation point on his distinguished career.
In 1996, Christman became the 55th Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy. During his tenure, he crafted a newer academy mission statement to reflect the link between West Point and the Army. He also drafted a new strategic direction for the academy's future in areas ranging from academic excellence to facilities modernization to cadet leadership development. He took a personal interest in efforts to publicize West Point's Bicentennial celebration and renew public awareness and pride in the academy.
Christman led an unprecedented fundraising campaign with the West Point AOG that raised more than $200 million in private funds. The increased resources, which included Congress increasing federal funding for the academy, subsidized the "Margin of Excellence" at West Point.
Thomas E. White Jr., Class of 1967: After graduating in 1967, White commanded troops with great distinction at every level of the armored cavalry. He served two tours in combat as a junior officer in Vietnam. He was decorated several times for valor, including the Silver Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross, while serving with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and 1st Aviation Brigade.
During his military career, White was the main analyst in the office responsible
for developing and acquiring the M1 Main Battle Tank. He served 23 years on active duty, becoming the first general officer in his 1967 class. He left the Army in 1990 to embark on a
successful business career, and was involved in exploring new state-of-the-art alternative energy concepts that led to solar, wind, bio fuels and other green technologies. Today, these concepts serve as essential building blocks for U.S. energy policy. One of these cutting edge businesses, the wind segment, was developed and sold to General Electric. It is now the second largest
wind turbine manufacturing business in the world.
White left the civilian business sector in 2001 and returned to working with the Army. He accepted an appointment as Secretary of the Army in the administration of President
George W. Bush. He served in that position until May 2003, leading the Army during one of the most difficult periods ever encountered by the nation. It started with the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and was followed by the early days of the Global
War on Terrorism and combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Through all the demands and challenges, White endeavored to do right for Soldiers, the Army and the nation. Army transformation, the Stryker family of vehicles, Future Combat System and the Army Family Well-Being all bear his handprints.
However, he is perhaps best remembered for his unwavering support of former Army Chief of Staff (retired) Gen. Eric Shinseki, and his testimony before Congress on the required force structure needed to sustain ongoing operations in Iraq. After his service as Secretary of the Army, White and several other West Point graduates started DKRW Energy LLC. During the past six years, the company has grown into one of the leading alternative energy development companies in the country.
Robert M. Kimmitt, Class of 1969: Kimmitt was a cadet company commander and captain of the rugby team while at the academy. He volunteered for duty in Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne Brigade after graduating first in his Ranger School class. He served with three other units in
Vietnam. He became the first member of his class to command in combat and earned three Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart and an Air Medal in Vietnam.
In 1974, as a captain, Kimmitt was a member of the first class of the military's Funded Legal Education Program and attended Georgetown University Law Center. While at Georgetown, he began working on the National Security Council staff, beginning a lifetime's work in international and security policy. Kimmitt served as the NSC Executive Secretary and the first NSC General Counsel. During his time there, he served under three presidents while bridging the Iranian hostage
crisis, the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut and the liberation operation in Grenada. Later in his career as the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, he served during the German Unification and the fall of the Soviet Union, the Panama operation in December 1989 and the first Gulf War. As the architect of the U.N. strategy that supported the historic coalition effort to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait, he was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation's second highest civilian award, by President George H.W. Bush.
In 1991, he was appointed as the first American Ambassador in more than 50 years to a united Germany. For his service, he was awarded Germany's highest decoration, the Order of Merit, and the U.S. Defense Department Public Service Award. Kimmitt served in many more capacities,
including Deputy Secretary of the Treasury from 2005-09, but his finest effort happened years earlier when in remembering his own generation of servicemen and women, he was a member of a small group of veterans who led the effort to construct the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., where 17 of his classmates are forever remembered.