Meet AUSA’s 2016 National Award Winners
Meet AUSA’s 2016 National Award Winners
The General Creighton W. Abrams Medal for exceptional service to the United States Army is awarded to Lt. Gen. Claude M. “Mick” Kicklighter, USA, Ret.
In 1954, while attending Mercer University, Kicklighter enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve as a corporal and was quickly promoted to sergeant. Upon graduation, he was commissioned a second lieutenant.
A short time later, he was commissioned in the Regular Army, where he served for nearly 36 years.
Serving two tours in Vietnam, Kicklighter was part of the 1st Logistical Command as a planning officer in the early days of the war and later as the assistant chief of staff, G4, for the 101st Airborne Division.
He returned in 1975 as part of a mission to Saigon to assess the status of the country following the North Vietnamese invasion. As a field artillery officer, he commanded every level from platoon through division – the 25th Infantry Division, “Tropic Lightning.” He later served as director of the Army Staff.
He retired from the Army in 1991 after serving as the commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific.
Following his Army career, Kicklighter continued his service as a civilian, directing the Department of Defense’s committee focused on thanking and honoring World War II veterans and their families as the 50th anniversary of that war approached.
He next became the deputy under secretary of the Army for international affairs and then deputy under secretary for memorial affairs.
In 2003, Kicklighter began a series of advisory roles, including aiding the Department of Defense and the Department of State in transitioning authority from the Coalition Provisional Authority to the new U.S. Mission Baghdad.
He assisted the deputy secretary of state for stabilization and security operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, establishing and directing the Iraq/Afghanistan Joint Strategic Transition Planning Group and assessing the strength and structure of U.S. forces needed for the NATO mission in Afghanistan.
He then served as the inspector general of the Department of Defense from 2007 to 2008. He returned to the Department of Defense in 2011 to direct the department’s efforts to commemorate the Vietnam War’s 50th anniversary; those commemoration events continue around the country.
Kicklighter’s military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal with Two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Three Oak Leaf Clusters and the Bronze Star.
He has received the Presidential Citizen Medal, the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Department of the Army Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service and the Distinguished Civilian Service Award.
The Major General Anthony J. Drexel Biddle Medal is awarded to Karen Lowe for her outstanding contributions to the Association of the United States Army.
For more than 20 years, Lowe has been a dedicated member of the George Washington Chapter of AUSA. Her energy and enthusiasm for service have caused the chapter to make great strides in support of AUSA’s mission.
Currently serving as the corporate director of Army Cyber/C4, government relations at Northrop Grumman, Lowe has more than 35 years of experience in the defense industry.
Her background has greatly contributed to her current role as the chapter’s vice president for industry activities, where she has diligently involved industry partners in the chapter’s professional development activities, helping strengthen their ties not only with the chapter, but with AUSA national as well.
Over the years, Lowe has held many positions within the George Washington Chapter, including first vice president and chairman of the advisory board, and she has undertaken a myriad of initiatives to benefit soldiers and their families.
She has also built a strong relationship with the Greater Los Angeles Chapter, helping support their Space, C4 and Cyber Symposium, which ran from 2008 to 2012; she helped develop the event content, coordinate speaker participation and liaise with the Army and Department of Defense.
A driving force behind the chapter’s efforts to make the Washington, D.C., Army Birthday Ball affordable to NCOs and young officers, Lowe’s tireless work at fundraising for the ball has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in support over the past 11 years.
Similarly, her fundraising acumen has greatly contributed to the chapter’s annual golf tournament, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of scholarship programs and the region’s soldiers.
She has also been an avid proponent of the chapter’s awards programs, leading the selection of the chapter’s annual Commander-in-Chief Award since 1995, as well as orchestrating quarterly award breakfasts honoring and serving as mentoring opportunities for noncommissioned officers of the Military District of Washington.
At the national level, Lowe has been a member of AUSA’s advisory board of directors since 1999, serving on a number of committees. For her dedicated work in support of the Association’s mission, she received the AUSA Distinguished Service Award in 2004.
The Joseph P. Cribbins Medal is awarded to Lettie M. Williams for her exemplary service to the U.S. Army as a civilian employee, and her significant contributions to its soldiers and their families.
Williams began her Army career not as a civilian but as a soldier, rising to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 2 (P) as a distinguished Black Hawk pilot with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
She left active duty to enable her to better dedicate herself to her children as a single mother. Following her career as a soldier, she became program manager for Army Instructor Pilot Training before her most recent role as the Department of the Army civilian director of the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss Joint Visitors Bureau.
As the director of the Joint Visitors Bureau, Williams is responsible for overseeing the planning, coordination, security and execution of all levels of distinguished visitor visits to Fort Bliss.
The wide range of distinguished visitors, from foreign general officers to the president of the United States, drove Williams to master the knowledge needed to carry out her role, including international protocol, etiquette and executive services.
Under her leadership, her team implements more than 150 events a year, ranging in size up to the Network Integration Evaluation – a semi-annual, two-week evaluation of equipment including participation from joint, interagency, multinational and industry partners – that draws more than a hundred distinguished visitors.
Williams also coordinates a number of events to enhance ties with the El Paso community, as well as the AUSA Omar Bradley Chapter.
Williams also devotes a great deal of her time to mentorship and volunteer activities.
She has provided mentorship to a soldier interested in becoming a warrant officer aviator, helping the soldier prepare and eventually become selected.
In a similar vein, she has utilized her skills to mentor local El Paso students, as well as helping at-risk young girls through the Firepower 40 organization, teaching them leadership and etiquette skills to help them find employment and overcome social challenges.
As a former athlete, Williams has also been an active supporter of local youth sports organizations, where she acts as a bookkeeper, travel coordinator or coach for numerous sports teams.
The John W. Dixon Award for outstanding contributions to national defense by a member of the industrial community is awarded to Marillyn A. Hewson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin.
After joining Lockheed Martin in 1983 as a senior industrial engineer, Hewson has since risen to become the chairman, president and chief executive officer of the largest aerospace and defense company in the world.
Over the course of her more than 30 years with Lockheed Martin, Hewson has done a great deal to benefit the United States Army and the men and women who serve within its ranks. Whether through strengthening partnerships between industry and the public sector, or bolstering the capabilities of our armed forces, Hewson has helped make our soldiers and our nation safer.
Under Hewson’s leadership, Lockheed Martin made the Joining Forces Impact Pledge in 2014, committing $25 million dollars in funding over five years to support active-duty service members, veterans, military families, and caregivers.
Lockheed Martin also supports the National Military Family Association, Our Military Kids, Fisher Houses, Tiger Woods Foundation, Blue Star Families, the USO, and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.
The company has also made significant contributions to foster education, particularly related to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Donating more than $30 million dollars to U.S. service museums, including $10 million for the National Museum of the United States Army campaign, Lockheed Martin seeks to intertwine their efforts to connect citizens with our military and service members, while getting them excited about the importance of STEM education.
Lockheed Martin has also made significant efforts to bolster employment among veterans.
In partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program, they have helped the organization host hundreds of hiring fairs across the U.S., Europe and Japan, resulting in the hiring of more than 25,000 new veterans and military spouses.
In addition, Lockheed Martin’s military relations team attends more than 200 events a year with transitioning service members and conducts bi-weekly online chats to answer veterans’ questions about employment in the private sector.
Hewson serves on the Board of Governors of the USO, the Board of Directors of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, and previously served on AUSA’s Council of Trustees. She is also the chairman of the Aerospace Industries Association.
The Lieutenant General Raymond S. McLain Medal is awarded to Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, USA, Ret., for his outstanding contributions to the advancement of the Association of the United States Army’s goal of a seamless and component-oriented Army.
Umbarger enlisted in the Indiana Army National Guard in 1969 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant of infantry in 1971.
He would go on to command combat-arms units at the company, battalion, brigade and division levels, including assignment as commanding general of the 76th Infantry Brigade.
In 2004, Umbarger was selected as adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard, where he directed the pre-mobilization training, deployment and redeployment of virtually all units of the Indiana Army and Air National Guard – more than 23,000 soldiers and airmen – in support of the global war on terror.
During his tenure he helped raise the profile of the Indiana National Guard by partnering with U.S. Army Forces Command and First Army to build training and mobilization facilities at Camp Atterbury–Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, where troops were trained for deployment to Kosovo, the Horn of Africa and Afghanistan.
Under his leadership the scope of the training expanded to include Department of Defense civilians directly supporting deployments.
Umbarger has also been a member of the Army Reserve Forces Policy Committee and the Secretary of Defense’s Reserve Forces Policy Board.
In support of his soldiers and their families, Umbarger worked to establish the J-9 Civil–Military Affairs Staff Section, which provided transition support service and was the first organization in the nation to conduct Post-Deployment Health Reassessments at various VA facilities throughout Indiana.
Many soldiers describe the thoughtfulness Umbarger displayed during his tenure, visiting them during deployments and personally greeting them upon their returns whether arriving home individually or as part of their unit.
For his exemplary service, Umbarger has been awarded the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster), the Army Commendation Medal and the Indiana Distinguished Service Medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster.
A life member of AUSA, Umbarger has been an avid supporter of the Association’s Indiana Chapter, including service as the chapter’s vice president of reserve affairs.
National Service Award
The National Service Award is awarded to The Honor Flight Network for exemplary service and enduring support to the American soldier and the United States Army community.
In 1998, Earl Morse, a retired Air Force captain and physician assistant, was hired by the Department of Veterans Affairs to work in a small clinic in Springfield, Ohio.
In May 2004, with the completion of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., Morse’s World War II patients were abuzz with excitement.
However, despite early enthusiasm, it soon became clear that many of the aging veterans lacked the financial resources or physical independence to make the trip themselves.
Later that year, Morse, a private pilot, offered to fly one of his patients to the nation’s capital to see the memorial free of charge.
Needless to say, the response was intensely emotional. Shortly thereafter, Morse pitched flying World War II veterans to see their memorial to other pilots in his aero club at Wright–Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, and a number signed up to help.
In May 2005, with more volunteers interested in helping, a board was formed, funds were raised and the first Honor Flight – consisting of six small planes carrying 12 elated veterans – set off for Manassas, Va.
By the end of that year, Honor Flight had transported 137 World War II veterans to visit the memorial.
In 2006, the organization switched to commercial flights, flying another 300 veterans to see the memorial.
The organization’s mission quickly spread to other parts of the country, garnering support and partnership with Southwest Airlines, which has donated thousands of tickets to support the trips.
Today, the Honor Flight Network has 130 hubs spread across 44 states and has transported more than 150,000 veterans to see their memorial.
While it continues to focus on those who served in World War II and on terminally ill veterans, the organization plans to expand to serve veterans from the Korean and Vietnam wars.
The Major General James Earl Rudder Medal is awarded to Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley, USA, Ret., for his outstanding contributions to the advancement of the Association of the United States Army’s goal of a seamless and component-oriented Army.
After graduating from Louisiana State University in 1981, Talley was commissioned in the Regular Army in the Corps of Engineers.
Over his more than 30 years of active and reserve service, Talley has commanded units at every level from platoon to division.
In 2003, he mobilized and deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom as chief of operations, 416th Engineer Command, Coalition Joint Forces Land Component Command.
In 2008 he deployed again, this time to Iraq as the commander, 926th Engineer Brigade, 4th Infantry Division.
From 2009 to 2012 he served as commanding general of the 84th Training Command at Fort Knox, Ky., during which time he also served on the Secretary of Defense’s Reserve Forces Policy Board.
His Army career culminated in his role as the 32nd Chief, Army Reserve and 7th Commanding General, United States Army Reserve Command, where he oversaw more than 200,000 soldiers and civilians and a budget of approximately nine billion dollars.
For his exemplary service, Talley has received the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, three Bronze Stars and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Silver De Fleury Medal.
Prior to his return to active military service, Talley was an active member of the engineering, business and academic communities.
He holds a PhD in civil and environmental engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and an executive MBA from the University of Oxford.
A registered professional engineer and board-certified environmental engineer, he has sought to pass on his skills and knowledge through teaching roles at Southern Methodist University, the University of Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins University and, most recently, as an advanced leadership fellow and Cabot House scholar-in-residence at Harvard University.
Talley is also the former president and CEO of Environmental Technology Solutions, a company he co-founded to commercialize technology he and others had developed, a blending of business and engineering he was able to leverage during his time in Baghdad to help improve lives and reinforce the peace.