- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 7, 2002

The National Defense University Foundation last night presented former President George Bush with the American Patriot Award for his lifelong commitment to public service and outstanding leadership during the Persian Gulf war.

The foundation presented Mr. Bush the award to honor "his love for his country, his inspirational leadership and his commitment to national security" throughout his career as a public official.

"President Bush, as our 41st president with a career of public service, has served as a role model for the values and love of country that all Americans admire, cherish and believe in," said Ronald Spratt, the foundation's chief development officer.

Mr. Bush received the award, a porcelain American Eagle flanked by the American flag, at a black-tie award dinner at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Northwest Washington. President Bush and first lady Laura Bush served as honorary chairmen of the dinner, which was attended by nearly 800 guests.

During the dinner, several of Mr. Bush's Cabinet members paid tribute to the former president with a 15-minute-long film of Mr. Bush's life and career.

Former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, former Rep. G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery, Mississippi Democrat, CIA Director George J. Tenet and Vice President Richard B. Cheney, who served as defense secretary under Mr. Bush, toasted the former president's accomplishments.

Mr. Bush was youngest pilot in the Navy when he received his wings and flew 58 combat missions during World War II. On one mission over the Pacific as a torpedo bomber pilot, he was shot down by Japanese aircraft fire and was rescued from the water by a U.S. submarine.

Mr. Bush went on to serve two terms as a U.S. representative from Texas. Later, he was appointed to a series of high-level positions, including ambassador to the United Nations and director of the CIA. In the 1980s, he served as vice president to Ronald Reagan, before being elected president in 1988.

Desert Storm commanders, including retired Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, also attended the event to honor Mr. Bush for his military triumph in the Persian Gulf war in 1991.

Mr. Bush rallied the United Nations and Congress and sent 425,000 American troops to free Kuwait after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded the tiny country and then threatened to move into Saudi Arabia. After weeks of air and missile bombardment, the 100-hour land battle dubbed Desert Storm routed Iraq's million-man army.

Mr. Bush is the third recipient of the foundation's award. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger received it in 1996 and 1998 respectively. Mr. Bush's name and a summary of his accomplishments will also be included at the foundation's Hall of Honor.

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