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4 receive USNA alumni award


The United States Naval Academy Alumni Association and Foundation has named four alumni recipients of the academy's Distinguished Graduate Award, including a Medal of Honor winner and a two-time academy superintendent.

The award recipients are: Capt. Thomas Hudner, a 1947 graduate; Adm. Kinnaird R. McKee, a 1951 graduate; Gen. Robert T. Herres, a 1954 graduate; and Adm. Charles R. Larson, a 1958 graduate.

George P. Watt Jr., president and chief executive of the alumni association, said in a statement that the four men were chosen among a pool of hundreds of distinguished alumni.

"The four men who make up the Distinguished Award Class of 2006 represent living role models for today's midshipmen and today's active-duty officers to emulate," he said.

"They represent varied careers - and the most valorous act possible under combat conditions - of those who choose the path of selfless service."

Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt, the academy's superintendent, said in a statement: "Captain Hudner, Adm. McKee, Gen. Herres and Adm. Larson - as well as previous distinguished graduates we have honored - have all exemplified a lifetime commitment to service, personal character and distinguished contributions to our nation."

Hudner won the Medal of Honor for his attempt to rescue Ensign Jesse Brown, the first African-American Navy pilot, who had crashed behind enemy lines near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. Hudner served for 30 years in the Navy, including tours on the USS Kitty Hawk, in the Bureau of Weapons and on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the chief of naval operations, the statement said.

Larson, an Annapolis resident, was the 51st and 55th superintendent of the Naval Academy, returning in the late 1990s after a series of scandals hurt the military college's reputation. Before his last tour as superintendent, Larson had served as commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and later of the U.S. Pacific Command, the statement said. He serves as chairman of the alumni association's board of directors.

McKee served for much of his career as a submariner. In 1975, he was named superintendent of the academy, overseeing the first group of women to enter the school. After that he served as commander of the U.S. Third Fleet, director of naval warfare and director of Navy nuclear propulsion, according to the alumni association.

Herres joined the Air Force after graduating from the academy in 1954, serving in numerous positions that included commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, first commander of the U.S. Space Command and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the statement said.

An award ceremony will be held at the academy March 31.

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