The American Patriot Award

The American Patriot Award (APA) is presented annually by the NDU Foundation and recognizes men and women of extraordinary excellence whose leadership has strengthened our nation’s strategic interest. It honors exceptional Americans whose inspirational leadership and selfless dedication embody the United States’ ideals and democratic principles in pursuit of enhancing human security and global stability.

On Tuesday May 8, 2018 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington D.C., the NDU Foundation presented the 17th American Patriot Award to James A. Baker, III, the 61st United States Secretary of State, and Leon Panetta, the 23rd United States Secretary of Defense.

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Past Honorees


The Men and Women of the Department of Defense 

and the Men and Women of the Defense and Intelligence Industry

The 2016 American Patriot Award honored both the Men and Women of the United States Department of Defense accepted by the Honorable Ashton Carter, Secretary of Defense and the Men and Women of the Defense and Intelligence Industry accepted by Mr. Norm Augustine, former OSD DR&E Executive, Acting Secretary of the Army and former Chairman, Lockheed Martin Corporation. The 2016 APA recognized the strong partnership between the Department of Defense and the Defense and Intelligence Industry and highlighted their spirit of innovation and tremendous contributions to our Nation’s security and defense.


The Men and Women of the 

Central Intelligence Agency

The 2015 American Patriot Award honored the men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency for their selfless dedication to the security of the United States. Their providing of silent and professional service to the country and our international partners is invaluable. Through daily briefings to the President, building threat assessments, and working in the field in dangerous and unpredictable environments, the CIA works tirelessly to support the mission of the United States despite these efforts not often being measurable.

The Director of the CIA, John O. Brennan, accepted the 2015 American Patriot Award on behalf of the men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency


The Men and Women of the National Guard

The 2014 American Patriot Award honored the men and women of the National Guard for their dedication to ensuring the safety and security of people around the world. They leave their civilian routines, often at short notice, to protect others in conflict, natural disasters, and national hardships. Older than the United States itself, the National Guard comprises over 354,000 Army National Guard and 106,000 Air National Guard members whose predecessors have fought in every American war since 1637. Since 2001, over seven hundred Guardsmen and women have made the ultimate sacrifice for us, as we have increasingly relied upon their service in conflicts abroad. Daily, they guard our vital infrastructure and, in moments of crisis, are ready to protect us. They saved over 17,000 people during the 2005 hurricanes and more than 63,000 defended Kuwaitis from invasion. They partner with militaries around the world to support training and peace building missions, serving with our allies in places as diverse as Jordan, Ukraine and Guatemala.

General Frank J. Grass, USA Chief NGB accepted the 2014 American Patriot Award on behalf of the men and women of the National Guard. Tribute speakers included the Honorable Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon, 55th Governor of Missouri, Her Royal Highness Princess Aisha Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, and the Under Secretary of the USAF, the Honorable Eric Fanning.


Hillary Rodham Clinton

The NDU Foundation presented The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton with the 2013 American Patriot Award to celebrate her dedication to public service as the First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State. At the 2013 Gala, Admiral James Stavridis introduced Secretary Clinton, and Secretary Clinton spoke about the crucial role of women in global peace and security efforts. 


 Men and Women of 

Special Operations Command

In 2012, the American Patriot Award Gala honored the Men and Women of Special Operations Command. An integral part of American strategy, Special Operations teams are comprised of the most elite members of the armed forces, and are dedicated patriots.

The 2012 American Patriot Award was presented by Mr. Robert Kraft and Admiral Mike Mullen, both of whom spoke about their own experiences with Special Operations Command. The award was accepted on behalf of the Men and Women of Special Operations by Admiral William McRaven, Commander of Special Operations since 2011.


Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman

The 2011 American Patriot Award Gala honored Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman for their lifetimes of public service. Senator McCain started his career at the Naval Academy, served in the Vietnam War and survived capture and imprisonment, becoming a Congressman and Senator following his release. Senator Lieberman began his career as Attorney General of Connecticut, and went on to become a Congressman and Senator for Connecticut, as well as a Vice Presidential candidate. Senators Lieberman and McCain were recognized for their outstanding record of contributions to America’s national security, armed forces and veterans throughout their impressive careers in government.  

At the American Patriot Award Gala in Washington, DC, U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director David Petraeus gave personal tributes to the honorees, and presented them with the 2011 award.


Robert Gates

The NDU Foundation awarded Secretary of Defense Robert Gates with the 2010 American Patriot Award. Serving 26 years in the CIA and the National Security Council, Robert Gates rose to become the Director of Central Intelligence under President George H. W. Bush. Gates served for a number of years as the President of Texas A&M University and as a member of the Iraq study group. Gates was appointed as the Secretary of Defense in 2006, and lead American efforts to achieve stability in both Iraq and Afghanistan until his retirement in 2011.

Notable figures including The Honorable David L. Boren, former Senator of Oklahoma, provided special remarks alongside General James E. Cartwright, USMC, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, detailing Secretary Gates’s many patriot contributions to American security. President George H.W. Bush provided a video message highlighting the many achievements Secretary Gates has made throughout his career to help service men and women, which was played for guests at the 2010 American Patriot Award Gala. 


General David Petraeus and the Men and Women of Central Command 

The 2009 American Patriot Award was presented to General David Petraeus and the Men and Women of CENTCOM for their unwavering dedication to American security. The men and women of CENTCOM led the American military through offensive and stability operations throughout the Persian Gulf War, the Iraq war, and the War in Afghanistan. 

At the 2009 American Patriot Award Gala, General Ann Dunwoody, USA, and General John Rogers Galvin, USA (Ret) shared their support for CENTCOM and General Petraeus, who accepted the award in person. Five military heroes joined general Petraus in accepting the American Patriot Award on behalf of their services, including CSM Rocky Shapla, USA; CDR Stephen Hall, USN; GYSGT Josue Magana, USMC; Tech. Sgt. Timothy R. Evans, USAF; LCDR Holly Harrison, USCG


Henry Kissinger

In 2008, Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was presented with the American Patriot Award in recognition for his distinguished career in public service. Colleagues from the military, diplomatic, political and economic communities, including Alexander Haig and Colin Powell, attended the Gala to speak to Kissinger’s manifold achievements.

Henry Kissinger is noted as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and for his steadfast commitment to American security. A proponent of Realpolitik, Kissinger played a prominent role in United States foreign policy between 1969 and 1977. During this period, he pioneered the policy of détente with the Soviet Union, orchestrated the opening of relations with the People's Republic of China, and negotiated the Paris Peace Accords, ending American involvement in the Vietnam War. Henry Kissinger accepted the American Patriot Award in person at the 2008 American Patriot Award Gala in Washington, DC.


Senator John Warner and Congressman Ike Skelton

On November 16, the 2007 American Patriot Award was presented to two of the nation's finest patriots - Senator John Warner and Congressman Ike Skelton. Senator Warner, as a United States Marine Corps Officer, Secretary of the Navy, and United States Senator from Virginia, and Congressman Ike Skelton as a State Legislator, Military Historian, and United States Representative from Missouri have served our nation with uncommon fervor and devotion. Their more than 80 years of unparalleled public service truly represent a special kind of American patriotism deserving of special recognition. 


John H. Glenn

The NDU Foundation presented the 2006 American Patriot Award to The Honorable John H. Glenn, Jr., in Washington, DC. Among the many speakers in attendance to celebrate Glenn’s achievements were General James Conway, Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps; The Honorable William Cohen, Senator Bill Nelson; Members of Congress, the Administration, and Diplomatic Community; past and present Armed Forces Service Heroes; and the 2005 Military Idol, Sgt. William Glenn.

Glenn was honored for his service as a Marine Corps combat fighter pilot, a pioneer astronaut and an esteemed United States Senator from Ohio. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1942 to 1965 as a test pilot, and joined the United States space program in 1959, having been selected as one of the original seven NASA Mercury astronauts. In February 1962, Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. Glenn was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in November 1974 and was reelected in 1980, 1986, and again in 1992. When he was 77 years old, Glenn returned to space as a payload specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, from October 29 to November7, 1998. His pioneering career significantly contributed to American history and national achievements. 


Senator Inouye and Senator Stevens

In 2005, the Honorable Senators Inouye and Stevens jointly accepted the American Patriot Award from the National Defense University Foundation at the American Patriot Award Gala in Washington, DC. Both Senators were honored for their unwavering support of American security and the armed forces, and for their historical achievements while serving in public office.  

Senator Daniel Ken "Dan" Inouye was a recipient of the Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a United States Senator from Hawaii, a member of the Democratic Party, and the President pro tempore of the United States Senate from 2010 until 2012, making him the highest-ranking Asian American politician in U.S. history. Inouye is noted for his heroic military service during World War II, as one of the few Japanese-Americans to volunteer for service.  

Senator Ted Stevens, also a World War II veteran, served as a Senator for 41 years, making him the longest-serving Republican senator in history. He was President pro tempore in the 108th and 109th Congresses from January 3, 2003, to January 3, 2007, and the third senator to hold the title of President pro tempore emeritus. Senator Stevens significantly contributed to American national security and the social and economic development of his home state, Alaska, throughout his service in the Senate.


Robert Joseph Dole

In 2004, the National Defense University Foundation awarded The Honorable Robert Joseph Dole with the American Patriot Award. Distinguished leaders including U.S. Representative John Dingell, Jr., Former Vice Presidential Candidate Jack Kemp, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers, Secretary of Homeland Security Thomas Ridge, and US Senator John Warner spoke about what makes Senator Dole a true American patriot.

Senator Dole, World War II Veteran and Bronze Star recipient, represented Kansas in the United States Senate from 1969 to 1996 and in the House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969. As a national political figure, Senator Dole was nominated for Vice President in the 1976 presidential election, running alongside incumbent President Gerald Ford. Senator Dole secured the republican presidential nomination in 1996, and to this day has remained a national leader and a strong advocate of our nation’s armed forces, history, and politics. 


America's Defense Team 

In 2003, the NDU Foundation honored America’s Defense Team with the American Patriot Award. With the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom just months earlier and the continuation of the War on Terror in Afghanistan, it was only appropriate to recognize the high levels of dedication and sacrifice taking place throughout every sector of American security. Armed Forces Personnel, Department of Defense Civilians, Pentagon leadership, industry partners, and military families were all presented with the 2003 American Patriot Award.

The award was accepted on behalf of thousands of patriots by Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. Individuals such as Bill Swanson, CEO of Raytheon, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers, testified to the unwavering dedication of Our Nation’s Defense Team in maintaining American Security. 


George H. W. Bush

President George H. W. Bush was awarded the American Patriot Award in 2002 for his selfless character, his love of country, his inspired leadership, and his enduring contributions to the security of our nation and the peace of the world. George Bush comes from a family where service to country is a way of life. The son of a Senator, the father of a governor and a President, during his life George Bush was a war hero, a congressman, an ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, liaison to the People's Republic of China, director of the CIA, Vice President and President of the United States -- one of the architects of America's victory in the Cold War and of America's unique position in the post-Cold War world.

President Bush’s American Patriot Award was presented at the Ronald Regan Building in Washington, DC on December 6th, at a Gala attended by over 600 distinguished guests. The award was presented to the President by Vice President Dick Cheney, Former US Representative Sonny Montgomery, CIA Director George Tenet, and Former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft.