Over 170 Army Historical Foundation (AHF) members and their guests attended the 2015 Annual Members’ Meeting and Awards Dinner at the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, Va. on May 18.
The evening’s activities began with an optional tour at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, to see the special exhibit One Life: Grant and Lee: “It is well that war is so terrible . . ..” This Civil War-themed exhibit considers the intertwined lives and rivalry between Generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.
Following the tour, General William W. Hartzog (USA-Ret.), President of the AHF Board of Directors, brought the formal part of the meeting to order and he welcomed the attendees, noting that several had traveled from out of state. Hartzog announced the nine winners of the 2014 Distinguished Writing Awards and updated the attendees on the progress of the Museum. “Some of you may have heard we are going to break ground for construction of the National Army Museum this year,” said Hartzog, “and I’m here to say that is true!” Hartzog referred to the recent soil samples and pending environmental studies, explaining they are precursory steps to beginning construction. “Progress is being made, all are cooperating; everyone wants this Museum to become a reality sooner than later,” emphasized Hartzog. “I fully expect we will be hosting the 2019 AHF annual meeting at the National Army Museum!”
Hartzog also introduced LTG Roger Schultz (USA-Ret.), newly elected President of AHF, and explained his new role with AHF and the Campaign. “In one short month, Roger has proven to be a dynamic leader,” said Hartzog. “We are truly fortunate to have Roger to oversee the Museum construction and to direct the Capital Campaign.”
Schultz presented the Foundation’s 2015 President’s Award to retired Army COL Ray Bluhm. Schultz reminded the group that Bluhm co-authored the original AHF ByLaws, guided the qualification for 501(c)(3)status, created the journal of Army history “On Point,” and developed the AHF membership programs. “His zeal for finding better ways to make the Foundation and its support of U.S. Army history more creative and fruitful is as unflagging today as it was over two decades ago.” Bluhm, completely unaware and honored by his selection for the award, expressed his shock by commenting that he had not been “ambushed and caught by surprise like this since his days in Vietnam.”
Ross Perot, businessman and former presidential candidate, was introduced as the recipient of AHF’s first “To Make Men Free” award. Hartzog explained that Perot was selected in recognition of his life-long example of the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. Upon receiving the award, Perot spoke of leading the effort to rescue two of his employees who were falsely imprisoned in Iran in 1978. Perot emphasized that he relied on retired Army Special Forces officer, COL Arthur D. “Bull” Simons, to get the job done. “He was the leader,” remarked Perot, “he planned, he put the right people in place in country, he prepared, and he executed the mission.” Perot joked that he did whatever Simons told him to do, even when Perot had to find his own flight from Iran to Turkey while the authorities were looking for him. “The mission was successful and our people were rescued,” exclaimed Perot, “and I thank Army Colonel Arthur Simons.”
GEN Peter W. Chiarelli (USA-Ret.) followed as the evening’s guest speaker. Chiarelli served in the U.S. Army for 40 years and as the 32nd Vice Chief of Staff. Now serving as the Chief Executive Officer of ONE MIND, which is dedicated to benefitting those affected by brain illness and injury, Chiarelli delivered a compelling presentation about brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder in Soldiers throughout history. “It is critical within the professional Army culture and the Army family that we eliminate the stigma that comes with brain injury and mental illness,” emphasized Chiarelli, “and that we support fundamental changes that will radically accelerate the development and implementation of improved diagnostics, treatments, and cures.”
The meeting was adjourned and, in recognition of the Civil War’s sesquicentennial, attendees received a special Civil War edition of “On Point” and a print of Jefferson Chalfant’s 1864 painting, “Rudolph Ellis of Philadelphia as Officer of the Day.”