Honoring the 2013 distinguished graduate recipients
The West Point Association of Graduates plans to honor six distinguished graduates at 11 a.m. Tuesday during the Alumni Exercise and Review Ceremony on the Plain.
The distinguished graduate honor was first awarded in 1992. Awardees are nominated by presidents of West Point societies and U.S. Military Academy classes and are chosen by the AOG committee.
The committee selected Robert G. Yerks, John W. Foss, Lee R. Anderson, Theodore G. Stroup Jr., Joseph E. DeFrancisco and Boonsrang Niumpradit as this year’s distinguished graduates.
Robert G. Yerks, Class of 1951: Instrumental in formulating the “Be All You Can Be” recruiting effort for the Army, retired Gen. Yerks bolstered the faltering numbers of the All Volunteer Army and helped attract Soldiers educated to new technologies.
After retirement, Yerks relocated to Monrovia, Liberia while working for the United States Life Insurance Corporation and used his talents in international diplomacy and strategic military training to guide Liberian leaders, who were fighting a brutal civil war, toward an open democracy.
Yerks became known as the “People’s General” to the citizens of Liberia and was nominated by them for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 for his tremendous contributions in bringing peace and humanitarian aid.
John W. Foss, Class of 1956: With his “lifetime training-teaching-mentoring” model, retired Gen. Foss demonstrated combat arms leadership practices by example and is credited with influencing the broader values that helped the Army win in both Operations Just Cause and Desert Storm.
Foss also modernized Army training and development policies and practices.
As a Ranger School instructor (later elected for the Ranger Hall of Fame) and later Chief of Infantry, he intensified and expanded Ranger training and dramatically improved the effectiveness of the ground-fighting force.
Teaching now for 20 years, Foss is currently a Senior Fellow at the Joint Forces Staff College and prepares field grade officers of all services.
Lee R. Anderson, Class of 1961: Anderson served three years in the U.S. Air Force before separating from the service to help his ill father run the family business, a small fire-protection service named APi.
Over the course of four decades, Anderson turned APi into a Forbes Top 400 company now operating at over 160 locations in all 50 states, Canada and the United Kingdom.
In addition to being chairman and CEO of the APi Group, Anderson is a world-renowned leader of conservation programs—he is a Heritage Member of Ducks Unlimited, a Golden Member of U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, and a founding member of the International SeaKeepers Society—and he is an extraordinary philanthropist, giving generous gifts to numerous institutions, including his alma mater.
Theodore G. Stroup Jr., Class of 1962: Throughout an exemplary military career spanning 34 years, retired Lt. Gen. Stroup demonstrated the qualities of selfless service and devotion to his country, to his community and to West Point on a daily basis.
After retiring from active duty, he became involved in the West Point Society of the District of Columbia and the National Capital Region (the largest West Point society), and he was a driving force behind the Class of 1962’s 50th anniversary Class Gift Campaign.
In 2006, he became the first chairman of the board under the newly configured governance structure of the West Point Association of Graduates, and during his tenure, some $100 million was raised to support WPAOG programs.
Joseph E. DeFrancisco, Class of 1965: Retired Lt. Gen. DeFrancisco has had a remarkable active-duty Army career. He served two tours in Vietnam, he spearheaded the deployment of the M119 light howitzer to Panama in Operation Just Cause, he served as the executive officer to the Secretary of the Army and as deputy commander in chief, United States Pacific Command and directed numerous humanitarian relief efforts.
DeFrancisco has also been a leader in enhancing understanding between the Army and its supporting communities, and currently serves on the Board of the Army and Air Force Mutual Aid Association.
Through it all, DeFrancisco has remained close to West Point: teaching at the academy in the ‘70s, serving on the transition team for three Superintendents and supporting the efforts of the Association of Graduates.
Boonsrang Niumpradit, Class of 1971: Retired Gen. Boonsrang finished his military career in 2008 as the 26th Supreme Commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces (equivalent to the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff).
At the Supreme Command Headquarters, Boonsrang contributed immeasurably to peace, democracy and education in his native Thailand and in the Pacific Region.
With the help of his leadership, a democratic system of government re-established itself in Thailand after a 2006 coup.
He remains actively engaged in Thai society, working to establish a stronger ethical emphasis among Thai youth and to organize forest restoration and reforestation missions.