James A. Baker III, a former secretary of state, secretary of the treasury and White House chief of staff, will receive the 2012 George Catlett Marshall Medal, the highest award presented by the Association of the United States Army.
Awarded annually to an individual who has exhibited selfless service to the United States of America, the medal will be presented to Baker by the Association’s Council of Trustees to recognize his contributions to the United States as a cabinet member, presidential adviser and a strong supporter of national defense and the men and women of the armed forces.
"His service exemplifies his unique and patriotic commitment to the highest American ideals of freedom, liberty and democracy," an AUSA official said.
The award presentation will take place Oct. 24, at the George Catlett Marshall Memorial Dinner, the final event of the three-day AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
"As an exceptional patriot, who served his country during many of the world’s and our nation’s most volatile, challenging and complex times, Secretary Baker – with extraordinary and singular abilities, including uncommon dedication and diplomacy – is a true American icon who represents the best of public service and sacrifice to the nation," AUSA President Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., said.
Adding, "Through his close collaboration with presidents of the United States, cabinet members, members of Congress and foreign leaders, Secretary Baker continuously and courageously demonstrated how we as a nation can fully address the national and global challenges we have faced and are facing today.
"He is a great American and truly deserving of AUSA’s highest award."
A native of Houston, Texas, Baker graduated from Princeton University and later received a law degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1952-1954. He became a first lieutenant and later a captain in the Marine Corps Reserve.
From 1957 to 1969 and from 1973 to 1975, he practiced law at the firm of Andrews & Kurth.
Encouraged to become active in the political arena by George H.W. Bush, Baker served as under secretary of commerce during President Gerald R. Ford’s administration, and later served as white House chief of staff for President Ronald Reagan where he exercised a high degree of influence on administration policy.
In 1995, Reagan named Baker as the 67th U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.
In that position, he formulated the Plaza Accord – an agreement signed at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, by the United States, France, West Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom to stabilize the global economy – and the Baker Plan to combat the international debt crisis.
During this period, Baker also served on the Economic Policy Council and Reagan’s National Security Council.
Following his service as George H.W. Bush’s presidential campaign chairman, Bush appointed Baker the 61st U.S. Secretary of State in 1989.
In this pivotal position, he travelled extensively to many foreign countries to address the unprecedented challenges and opportunities facing the U.S. and other free world nations during the Cold War era.
Baker played a key role in constructing the 34-member national alliance that fought alongside the United States in the Gulf War.
After serving as secretary of state until 1992, Baker returned to the White House as chief of staff.
Currently, Baker is a senior partner in the law firm Baker Botts, and serves as the honorary chairman of the James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.
He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991 and the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service in 2000.
"Secretary Baker’s unparalleled accomplishments and his extraordinary political and diplomatic career – in the tradition of soldier-statesman General George Catlett Marshall – make him truly deserving of the Marshall Medal, and we at AUSA are proud to recognize him as the great American he is," Sullivan said.