The awards that the Order presents to cadets and midshipmen in the Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard have been named for gentlemen who provided distinguished service to our country. Most of these men also served as Officers of our Order. The following are biographies of these men and of their significant contributions to our nation and to our Order.
Admiral George Dewey Award
Admiral George Dewey was a member of the Order Of The Founders And Patriots Of America, with Order #552. He was an Associate of the Pennsylvania Society, with Society #93. His Founding Ancestor was Thomas Dewey of Windsor, MA, and his Patriot Ancestor was Corporal William Dewey of Lebanon, CT. He served as Governor General from 1904 to 1908.
George Dewey, the only officer of the U.S. Navy ever to hold the rank of Admiral of the Navy, was born on 26 December 1837, in Montpelier, Vermont. On 23 September 1854, he was appointed Acting Midshipman from the first Congressional District of Vermont, and upon graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1858, was warranted Midshipman, to date from 11 June of that year. He became a Passed Midshipman on 19 January 1861, and on 28 February of the same year he was warranted Master. His subsequent advancement was as follows: Lieutenant, 19 April 1861; Lieutenant Commander, 3 March 1865; Commander, 13 April 1872; Captain, 27 September 1884; Commodore, 28 February 1896; Rear Admiral, 11 May 1898; Admiral, 2 March 1899; and Admiral of the Navy on 24 March 1903 to date from 2 March 1899.
During the period 26 April 1861, until 30 August 1867, he had consecutive service on the USS Mississippi, USS Brooklyn, USS Agawam, USS Colorado, USS Kearsarge, USS Canandaigua, and again USS Colorado. When detached from the latter he was directed to await orders of 1 October 1867, which returned him to the Naval Academy for a tour of duty that ended in September 1870. On 10 October 1870, he assumed command of USS Narragansett, and in February 1871 was transferred to command of the USS Supply, a hospital ship. On 27 July 1871, he was ordered to the Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts, and after five months’ duty there and brief instruction at the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island, he again commanded Narragansett from 1 March 1873, to August 1875. Ordered on 25 August 1875, to report as Lighthouse Inspector, Second Naval District, at Headquarters in New York, New York, he served in that capacity until 1 August 1877, and as a member of the Lighthouse Board for eight months thereafter. On 1 May 1878, he became Secretary of the Lighthouse Board. On 18 October 1882, he was ordered to command USS Juniata, and remained at sea from 25 October that year until July 1884, when he was ordered detached and to the Navy Department, Washington DC. Again, at sea, he commanded USS Dolphin from October 1884 until March 1885, when he transferred to command of the USS Pensacola.
On 1 August 1889, he was commissioned Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, Navy Department, Washington DC. His term ended by resignation on 30 June 1893, when he again became a member of the Lighthouse Board. On 5 November 1895, he reported for duty as President of the Board of Inspection and Survey, Navy Department. On 30 November 1897, he was ordered to Asiatic Station and, proceeding by steamer, he assumed command on 3 January 1898, his flag in the protected cruiser, USS Olympia, Captain Charles V. Gridley, commanding. The Spanish-American War action at Manila, Philippine Islands, 1 May 1898, not only gave birth to the historical expression “You may fire when you are ready Gridley,” but also liquidated the Spanish Fleet and installations in the Manila Harbor without loss of men to the U.S. Fleet.
On 10 May 1898, Admiral (then Commodore) Dewey was given a vote of thanks by the Congress of the United States, and three days later was commissioned Rear Admiral, to date from 11 May 1898. That promotion was an advancement of one grade for “highly distinguished conduct in conflict with the enemy as displayed by him in the destruction of the Spanish Fleet and batteries in the harbor of Manila, Philippine Islands, May 1, 1898.” He was relieved of command of Asiatic Station on 4 October 1899, and ordered to the Navy Department, Washington, where on 29 March 1900, he was designated President of the General Board. An Act of Congress, 2 March 1899, created the rank of Admiral of the Navy. It provided that when such office became vacant either by death or otherwise, the office would cease to exist. On 24 March 1903, Admiral Dewey, who held the rank of Admiral since 8 March 1899, was commissioned Admiral of the Navy, with date of rank 2 March 1899, and became the only officer of the United States Navy who was ever so commissioned. He held the rank of Admiral of the Navy until his death in Washington, DC, on 16 January 1917.
Admiral Dewey earned the Civil War Medal; the Spanish Campaign Medal; the Philippine Campaign Medal; and the Dewey Medal (commemorating the Battle of Manila Bay). A destroyer, USS Dewey (DD-349), was named to honor Admiral of the Navy George Dewey. Built by the Bath Iron Works Corporation of Bath, Maine, she was launched on 28 July 1934, under the sponsorship of Miss Ann M. Dewey of Quiche, Vermont, great-grandniece of Admiral Dewey. USS Dewey was placed in commission at the Boston Navy Yard on 4 October 1934, and earned thirteen battle stars for operations in the Pacific War Area during World War II.
Captain Michael Augustine Healy Award
Revenue Captain Michael A. Healy, commanding officer of the cutters Chandler, Corwin, Bear, McCulloch and Thetis, became a legend enforcing federal law along Alaska’s 20,000-mile coastline. In addition to being a friend to missionaries and scientists, he was a rescuer of whalers, natives, shipwrecked sailors, and destitute miners.
Captain Michael A. Healy, USRCS, was born near Macon, Georgia in 1839. He was the fifth of ten children born to Michael Morris Healy, an Irish plantation owner, and his wife Mary Elisa Smith, a former slave. This family produced a number of distinguished individuals. Three brothers entered the priesthood; James became the first black bishop in North America, Patrick was president of Georgetown University, and Sherwood became an expert in canon law. Three sisters became nuns, one reaching the level of mother superior.
Michael Healy was uninterested in academic pursuits and thus began a seagoing career as a cabin boy aboard the American East Indian Clipper Jumna in 1854. He quickly became an expert seaman and rose to the rank of officer on merchant vessels.
In 1864 he applied for a commission in the U.S. Revenue Marine and was accepted as a Third Lieutenant, his commission being signed by President Abraham Lincoln. After serving successfully on several cutters along the east coast, he began his lengthy service in Alaskan waters in 1875 as the second officer on the cutter Rush. He was given command of the revenue cutter Chandler in 1877. Promoted to Captain in March 1883, he was given command of the cutter Thomas Corwin in 1880. In 1884 he and the Corwin participated in a controversial bombardment of the native village of Angoon at the request of an officer of the U.S. Navy on patrol in the area.
In 1886 he took command of the cutter Bear. Although already held in high regard as a seaman and navigator in the waters of Alaska, it was as commanding officer of Bear that Healy truly made his mark in history. During the last two decades of the 19th Century, Captain Healy was the United States Government in most of Alaska. In his twenty years of service between San Francisco and Point Barrow, he acted as: judge, doctor, and policemen to Alaskan natives, merchant seamen and whaling crews.
He operated in an eerie echo of what would become the mission of his Coast Guard successors a century later: protecting the natural resources of the region, suppressing illegal trade, resupply of remote outposts, enforcement of the law, and search and rescue. Even in the early days of Arctic operations, science was an important part of the mission. Renowned naturalist John Muir made a number of voyages with Healy during the 1880s as part of an ambitious scientific program. With the reduction in the seal and whale populations, he introduced reindeer from Siberia to Alaska to provide food, clothing and other necessities for the native peoples.
The primary instrument in Healy’s capable hands, to accomplish all of this, was the cutter Bear, probably the most famous ship in the history of the Coast Guard. Under “Hell Roaring Mike”, Bear became legendary as “Healy’s Fire Canoe”. Healy and Bear proved to be a perfect match, a marriage of vessel capability and unrivaled ice seamanship that became legend. He served as her commanding officer until 1895.
During that time he became something of a celebrity. A January 1894 article in the New York Sun described him thusly:
Capt. Mike Healy is a good deal more distinguished person in the waters of the far Northwest than any president of the United States or any potentate of Europe has yet become. He stands for law and order in many thousands of land and water, and if you should ask in the Arctic Sea, ‘Who is the greatest man in America?’ the instant answer would be ‘Why, Mike Healy.’ When an innocent citizen of the Atlantic coast once asked on the Pacific who Mike Healy was, the answer came, ‘Why, he’s the United States. He holds in these parts a power of attorney for the whole country.’
Healy was “on the beach” for four years following a controversial court-martial conviction for gross irresponsibility and “scandalous conduct,” however, in 1900, due in part to a need for more cutters in Alaskan waters following the Alaska gold rush, Healy was placed in command of the cutter McCulloch. His last two years of sailing in Alaskan waters were aboard the cutter Thetis. Captain Healy retired in 1904 at the mandatory retirement age of 64 and died one year later.
Lieutenant General Herman Nickerson Jr. Award
Lieutenant General Herman Nickerson, Jr. was a member of the Order Of The Founders And Patriots Of America, with Order #3854. He was an Associate of the District of Columbia Society, with Society #280. His Founding Ancestor was William Nickerson of Yarmouth, MA, and his Patriot Ancestor was Captain John Nickerson of Yarmouth, MA. He served as Registrar General from 1984 to 1986, and as Governor General from 1986 to 1988.
Herman Nickerson, Jr., was born 30 July 1913, in Boston, Massachusetts, and graduated from high school in Arlington, Massachusetts. Following graduation from Boston University where he was a member of the ROTC unit for four years, he resigned an Army Reserve commission to accept appointment as a Marine Second Lieutenant on 10 July 1935.
After completing Basic School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in February 1936, Lieutenant Nickerson embarked for Shanghai, China, where he served for two and a half years with the Fourth Marines. While in China, he was promoted to First Lieutenant in August 1938. On his return to the United States in November 1938, he served as Commanding Officer of the Marine Detachment at the Naval Air Station, Seattle, Washington. Joining the 2d Defense Battalion in September 1940, he served with them in San Diego, California, and Parris Island, South Carolina. In May 1941, he was promoted to Captain while on temporary duty under instruction at the Coast Artillery School, Fort Monroe, Virginia.
In December 1941, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Captain Nickerson departed Parris Island for San Diego with the 2d Defense Battalion to join the 2d Marine Brigade overseas. Arriving on American Samoa in January 1942, he served consecutively as Battery Commander, Group Executive Officer, and finally Group Commander, Three-Inch Anti-aircraft Artillery Group. While overseas, he was promoted to Major in May 1942 and to Lieutenant Colonel in June 1943. He returned to the United States in July 1943. That October, Lieutenant Colonel Nickerson was assigned to Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia, as Commanding Officer of the Ordnance School, and subsequently completed the Command and Staff School. In February 1945, he joined the Fourth Infantry Training Regiment at Camp Pendleton, California, and again embarked for duty in the Pacific area, serving as Ordnance Officer, 4th Marine Division, and Executive Officer, 25th Marines. He later saw duty as Ordnance Officer with the III Amphibious Corps in Tientsin, China, and following dissolving of the III Amphibious Corps, served as Division Ordnance Officer and Division Legal Officer, respectively, of the 1st Marine Division.
In January 1947, on his return to the United States, Lieutenant Colonel Nickerson began a three-year assignment at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, serving consecutively as Assistant G-3, Recruiting Training Battalion Commander, Weapons Training Battalion Commander, and Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3. He also saw temporary duty from January through August 1949 as a U.S. Military Observer with the United Nations Mission in Palestine and seven Arab States. Following this, he completed the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia, and was promoted to Colonel in July 1950. That same month, upon the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, he departed for the Far East.
From August 1950 to April 1951, Colonel Nickerson served as Advisor on Marine Corps matters, General Headquarters, Far East Command, and also performed temporary additional duty in Korea. For conspicuous gallantry in September 1950 as Liaison Officer, First Marines, 1st Marine Division, during the advance along the Inchon-Seoul highway and the Han River crossing, he was awarded the Silver Star Medal. In April 1951, he became Commanding Officer of the Seventh Marines in Korea, serving in this capacity through September 1951. During the early part of this period, he earned both the Legion of Merit with Combat “V”. As a Colonel during the Korean conflict, General Nickerson was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Cross, the Nation’s second highest combat award, for extraordinary heroism on 31 May 1951 as Commanding Officer of the Seventh Marines, 1st Marine Division. His citation states in part:
“Learning that two of his battalions were heavily engaged and that the enemy was grouping for a counter-attack, Colonel Nickerson unhesitatingly left the comparative safety of his command post and fearlessly moved forward over rugged mountainous terrain, under intense enemy mortar and artillery fire, to the most forward elements of his command. Unmindful of his personal safety, he advanced to an exposed vantage point under heavy enemy fire and through his brilliant guidance, his troops repulsed the ferocious counter-attack, taking the offensive and overwhelming the fanatical foe to secure the high ground dominating the vital road junction of Yang-gu.”
Colonel Nickerson was named Inspector of Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, in October 1951. In March 1952, he returned to Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, where he served as Director, Advance Base Problem Section, until June 1954, and Director Senior School, until July 1956. He served next as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, at Pearl Harbor, from August 1956 to December 1957. In January 1958, he joined Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic, at Norfolk, as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3.
Transferred to Headquarters Marine Corps in September 1958, Colonel Nickerson served as Special Assistant to the Fiscal Director until April 1959, when he was named Fiscal Director of the Marine Corps. He was promoted to Brigadier General on 1 January 1959. While at Headquarters Marine Corps, General Nickerson was elected President of the American Society of Military Comptrollers in 1959 and again in 1960. He completed his tour of duty as Fiscal Director of the Marine Corps in May 1962. That June he assumed command of the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton. He was promoted to Major General, 1 July 1962. In April 1963, General Nickerson joined the Marine Corps Supply Center, Barstow, California, as Commanding General. He served as Commanding General, Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, from June 1965 until September 1966.
Ordered to the Republic of Vietnam in October 1966, General Nickerson commanded the First Marine Division until May 1967, earning the Distinguished Service Medal, and for service as Deputy Commander, III Marine Amphibious Force from June 1967 to October 1967, he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Legion of Merit with Combat “V”.
Upon his return to the United States in November 1967, he served briefly as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, at Headquarters Marine Corps. In January 1968, he was assigned duty as Director of Personnel/Deputy Chief of Staff (Manpower), and served in this capacity until he was ordered to the Far East to assume his final assignment. Shortly after becoming Director of Personnel/Deputy Chief of Staff (Manpower), he was nominated for lieutenant general by President Johnson and his promotion confirmed by the Senate, 15 March 1968. One year later, in March 1969, he returned to Vietnam as Commanding General, III Marine Amphibious Forces. He retired after 35 years as a Marine on 31 March 1970.
Lieutenant General Herman Nickerson, Jr., a decorated combat veteran of three wars whose last assignment was Commanding General, III Marine Amphibious Force, Vietnam, in 1969 and 1970, died 27 December 2000 in Maine.
A complete list of his medals and decorations include: the Army Distinguished Service Cross; the Distinguished Service Medal; the Silver Star Medal; the Legion of Merit with Combat “V” and Gold Star in lieu of a second award; the Bronze Star Meal; the Air Medal; the Presidential Unit Citation with two bronze stars indicative of second and third awards; the China Service Medal with one bronze star; the American Defense Service Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; the American Campaign Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; the Navy Occupation Service Medal; the National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star; the Korean Service Medal with one silver star in lieu of five bronze stars; the Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze stars; the United Nations Service Medal (Korea); the United Nations Service Medal (Palestine); two Korean Presidential Unit Citations; the Korean Chung Mu Medal; the Vietnamese National Order; the Vietnamese Army Distinguished Service Order; the Cross of Gallantry with two Palms; and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.[ ]
Lieutenant General John MacNair Wright Jr. Award
Lieutenant General John MacNair Wright, Jr. was a member of the Order Of The Founders And Patriots Of America, with Order #4504. He was an Associate of the Texas Society, with Society #22. His Founding Ancestor was Edward Wright of Sudbury, MA, and his Patriot Ancestor was Private William Wright of Rutland, MA, and later Swanzey, New Hampshire. He served as Secretary General from 1986 to 1988 and as Governor General from 1988 to 1990.
John MacNair Wright, Jr. was born on 14 Apr 1916, at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, and died 27 Jan 2014 at Riverside, CA. He married Helene Tribit on 28 June 1940 at Beverly Hills, CA. He grew up in Hollywood, CA, and was active with the Boy Scouts of America, reaching the rank of Eagle Scout. He graduated from Fairfax High School and obtained an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY, in the Class of 1940. While at West Point, he starred in varsity soccer, becoming an All-American.
Soon after graduation, John MacNair Wright, Jr. was commissioned in the Coast Artillery Corps and sent for duty in the Philippines, assigned to the 91st Coast Artillery, Philippine Scouts. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on 7 Dec 1941, the Philippines were invaded by the Japanese. The American forces withdrew to the Bataan Peninsula and then to the island of Corregidor, where they were besieged by the Japanese. The American forces, then under the command of Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainright, were forced to surrender on May 6, 1942. Prior to doing so, however, with most of the American artillery already destroyed during the final assault on Corregidor, John MacNair Wright, Jr. was given a roving 155mm gun and given authority to position it anywhere he had effective fire on the Japanese at Bataan. He fired the last artillery salvo at the Japanese before being forced to surrender. Following the surrender, John MacNair Wright, Jr. was taken prisoner. He remained a prisoner of war for the duration of World War II, surviving disease and incredible deprivation. He was ultimately liberated at a POW camp in Korea in September 1945, six weeks after the war ended. For his actions at Corregidor and leadership afterward, John MacNair Wright, Jr. was awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.
John MacNair Wright, Jr. remained in the Army following World War II. Following a year of hospitalization and recovery, he transferred out of artillery and into the infantry and became parachute qualified. In 1948, he was posted as the Military Attaché to the U.S. Embassy in Paraguay. Upon his return to the U.S., he attended The Infantry School at Fort Benning, GA, and then commanded the 3rd Battalion, 508th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. As the Korean War broke out in 1950, Lieutenant Colonel John MacNair Wright, Jr. served as Executive Officer for the 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, and Division G-1 and G-4, 7th Infantry Division.
In 1961, after an assignment on the Department of the Army Staff, Colonel Wright attended the National War College, following which he served in Germany as Chief of Staff for the 8th Infantry Division, followed by assignments as G-3 for the VII Corps and then G-3 for the Seventh Army. In 1964, he was promoted to Brigadier General and transferred to Fort Benning as Assistant Division Commander of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test), serving under Major General Harry Kinnard as the Division Commander. It was the purpose of this unit to test, evaluate and develop what would become the airmobile doctrine first used by the U.S. Army in Vietnam. Brigadier General Wright was determined to become a helicopter pilot himself. With a senior CWO5 as his instructor, he took the same course of instruction as pilots going through the U.S. Army Flight School at Ft. Rucker, AL. When he was ready for his final flight checks, he returned to Fort Rucker for those checks. He was then designated a U.S. Army Aviator. In 1965, the division was reformed as the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and deployed to Vietnam.
After his tour in Vietnam, John MacNair Wright, Jr. was promoted to Major General and was assigned to command The Infantry School at Fort Benning, GA. After this tour, he was given the assignment in 1969 as Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division, the “Screaming Eagles”, during combat operations in Vietnam. For his leadership, courage and professionalism, he was awarded his second Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross and 47 Air Medals.
Following his second tour in Vietnam, John MacNair Wright, Jr. was promoted to Lieutenant General and transferred to the Pentagon in Washington, DC, to serve as Comptroller of the Army, a post he held until his retirement from the Army in 1972. Upon his retirement, he was awarded his third Distinguished Service Medal.
For his contributions to Army aviation and the development of the airmobile concept of helicopter combat operations, Lieutenant General John MacNair Wright, Jr., USA (Retired) was inducted into the U.S. Army Aviation Hall of Fame in 1986. The citation from the U.S. Army Aviation Hall of Fame reads:
“A highly respected commander and staff officer who served in his final assignment as Comptroller of the Army on the General Staff, Lieutenant General JOHN M. WRIGHT, JR., was, first and foremost, a leader. An aviator with considerable combat experience, he was the Assistant Division Commander of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test) at Ft. Benning, Georgia, during the 1964-1965 period. He provided strong leadership and guidance during the extensive testing of the division’s units and equipment, which resulted in the adoption of such a division by the Army. As the ADC of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in Vietnam during 1965-1966, he personally engineered the clearing of a division base in the jungle near An Khe, retaining the area’s grass in order to reduce the dust problems generated by the hundreds of helicopters to be stationed there. He dubbed the world’s largest helipad, “The Golf Course.”
In 1966, General Wright was appointed by the Army Chief of Staff to direct a study entitled “Aviation Requirements for the Combat Structure of the Army” – which became the blueprint for the future development of Army Aviation. During 1967-1969, he served as Commandant of The Infantry School, where he established programs to ensure that ground commanders were aware of the capabilities and limitations of air assault tactics and techniques developed in Vietnam.
In 1969 Jack Wright returned to Vietnam as Commanding General, 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile). His extensive experience with 11th Air Assault Division and 1st Cavalry Division enabled him to maximize the unique capabilities of the unit and to develop new air assault tactics and techniques. Not a chair bound leader, General Wright was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 59 Oak Clusters. The 1st Cavalry Division and the 101st Airborne Division were each recognized as the “Outstanding Aviation Unit of the Year” by the Army Aviation Association while he served with them in Vietnam.”
Upon his retirement from the Army, Lieutenant General Wright served successively as the National Director of Research and Development, National Director of Programs and National Director of Exploring for the Boy Scouts of America, initially in Princeton, NJ, and later in Dallas, TX.
Lieutenant General Wright was also awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 1971, the George Washington Honor Medal by the Freedom’s Foundation at Valley Forge, and in 2007 was presented the Distinguished Graduate Award by the U.S. Military Academy Association of Graduates.