Distinguished Graduate Award

Recognizing exceptional graduates

The Distinguished Graduate Award recognizes exceptional graduates who have set themselves apart by making extraordinarily significant contributions to our nation and/or their communities. It is a unique honor bestowed by the U.S. Air Force Academy and its Association of Graduates, recognizing graduates whose accomplishments are inspirational and elevate the reputation and the standing of the U.S. Air Force Academy. Distinguished Graduates should provide an example to all graduates and cadets of the standards that we value and of the abilities that have made our country and society great.

Award Winners

Mr. Terrence “Terry” O’Donnell '66 Lt. Gen. (Ret.) John D. Hopper Jr. '69
Brig Gen (Ret) Hans Mueh '66 Maj Gen (Ret) Susan Desjardins '80
Gen (Ret) David Goldfein '83
Col. (Ret.) Leonard “Lucky” Ekman ’63 Dr. William Wecker ’63
Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Eugene Lupia ’67
Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jay Kelley '64 Mr. Hugh Williamson III '64
Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Ron Sega '74 Col. (Ret.) Gail Benjamin Colvin '80
Col. (Ret.) Leslie Denend '63 Mr. Fletcher “Flash” Wiley '65
Gen. (Ret.) Norton “Norty” Schwartz '73 Gen. (Ret.) Edward Rice Jr. '78
Mr. John “Jack” Kucera '78  
Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Edward R. Jayne II '66 Col. (Ret.) Dr. H. Michael Lambert '70
Gen. (Ret.) Mark A. Welsh III '76 Brig. Gen. (Ret.) John C. Inglis '76
Mr. John Fox '63 Mr. T. Allan McArtor '64
Gen. (Ret.) Steve Lorenz '73
Gen. (Ret.) George Lee Butler '61 Gen. (Ret.) Charles R. Holland '68
Mr. R. David Yost '69 Col. (Ret.) Gary E. Payton '71
Gen. (Ret.) Gregory “Speedy” Martin '70 Mr. Paul Madera '78
Dr. Thomas J. Eller '61 Gen. (Ret.) Kevin P. Chilton '76
Mr. A. Bart Holaday '65 Gen. (Ret) William R. "Bill" Looney III '72
Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Marcus A. Anderson '61 Mr. Edward E. "Ted" Legasey '67
Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Ruben A. Cubero '61 Mr. Richard D. McConn '66
Mr. Max F. James '64 Gen. (Ret.) Ralph E.Eberhart '68
Gen. (Ret.) John Michael Loh '60 Honorable Heather A. Wilson '82
Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Donald Shepperd '62 Mr. John Martinson '70
Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Ervin Rokke '62 Mr. Gregg Popovich '70
Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Robert D. Beckel '59 Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Edward J. Mechenbier '64
Gen. (Ret.) H.T. Johnson '59 Gen. (Ret.) Michael E. Ryan '65
Col. (Ret.) Frederick Gregory '64 Gen. (Ret.) Ronald W. Yates '60
Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Bradley C. Hosmer '59 Mr. Richard T. Schlosberg '65
Dr. Paul G. Kaminski '64 Gen. (Ret.) Robert C. Oaks '59
Gen. (Ret.) Ronald Fogleman '63 Mr. Harry J. Pearce, '64

Distinguished Graduate Nominations are now open
for the class of 2023!

The Distinguished Graduate Award is the Senior Award that a graduate can receive. Nominations are accepted for those forty years from graduation or greater in each given year. Therefore, it is imperative that your nominee excels in all three components and that you convey their excellence to the award committee. Please refrain from assuming the committee knows your nominee; describe the nominee to them like they are unfamiliar with them.

Before you begin the submission, please review all requirements, and prepare the necessary documents. You can save your information at any time during the submission process and go back and edit as you need until the deadline of December 31, 2023. To nominate click here.

Nomination Cover Letter (One page):

This letter is the statement endorsing the individual and a brief summary of why you are nominating them for the Distinguished Graduate Award.

The Executive Summary (One page) :

Categories (Complete all that are applicable):

  1. USAFA and Military career highlights
  2. Military awards and medals
  3. Government/Civilian/Business/Community career highlights and awards/certificates
  4. Summary of support of/service to USAFA and the Cadet Wing
  5. Summary of support for the AOG and/or Foundation (gifts of "time, talent, and/or treasure")
  6. Other notable achievements

The Narrative (Three pages must address the following):

  1. Please describe the outstanding performance of your nominee who has demonstrated a lifetime of service to the nation. This should include (but not limited to) information across the individual's career, including cadet information, military service, civilian work, professional accomplishments, awards, and distinctions. (Scoring maximum 50 points)
  2. What has the nominee done to promote the Air Force Academy and its graduates favorably, i.e., what has the individual done to promote the Air Force Academy to the Air Force, their local community, and the nation? Examples would be: ALO, AOG Chapter/Affinity, local, regional or national service/lectures, etc. (Scoring maximum 30 points)
  3. What has the nominee done to promote and increase awareness of graduate heritage among alumni and cadets? Please explain how the person has supported or has remained engaged with the Academy since their graduation. This section should include memberships in Academy functions and service in/on USAFA communities, mentorship of students/permanent party, financial support to USAFA, etc. Think AOG, AFA Foundation, AFAAC, Sabre Society, Polaris, 1954, Guidon, et al. (Scoring maximum 20 points)

Save the Date for the 2024 Distinguished Graduate Award Dinner on August 16, 2024, to honor the 2023 Class. (Nominees must be available on this date to be considered).

Letters of Endorsement:

Two additional one-page letters of endorsement can be added to the nomination.

New this year, online packet submission only!Please click here for the nomination form.

In addition, there is a new policy for submissions:

Year One: Packet is submitted and considered for selection.

Nominee and Nominator will be notified of selection or need for new cover letter.

Year Two: If packet was not selected, nominator must submit a new cover letter to keep active.

Nominee and Nominator will be notified of selection or need for new cover letter.

Year Three: If packet was not selected, nominator must submit a new cover letter to keep active.

Nominee and Nominator will be notified of selection or that this packet is to remain off cycle for one year and resubmitted.

Year Four: No packet submission, may submit a brand-new package after taking this cycle off.

For tips on how to write an exceptional packet please look at this document.

For questions please reach out to Michele Bergeman.

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