(August 8, 2017) Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., who served 25 years in the National Guard in two states, will receive the NGAUS Harry S. Truman Award, the association’s highest honor. Walz is the first retired noncommissioned officer selected by the association board to receive the award named for a Guardsman who also served in elected office.
Walz was a member of the Nebraska Army National Guard from 1981 to 1996 and the Minnesota Army Guard from 1996 to 2005. He retired as a command sergeant major and was elected the next year to the House of Representatives.
As a congressman, he has championed legislation to improve the quality of life of service members, veterans and their families. He has been instrumental in the expansion of suicide-prevention programs and education benefits.
He is currently the ranking Democrat on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and a co-chair of the House National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus.
The NGAUS board also selected two retired Guard officers to receive the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Medal, the association’s second-highest honor. Retired Maj. Gen. Frank D. Vavala is being recognized for his 50 years of Guard service, which included 18 years as the Delaware adjutant general. He also served from 2010 to 2012 as the NGAUS chairman of the board.
Retired Col. B.G. Wright will also receive the Montgomery Medal. As part of the professional staff of the House Appropriations Committee, he has helped the Guard secure billions of dollars of required equipment through the congressionally directed National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account.
Other NGAUS individual awards recognize six Guardsmen who risked their lives to save others. Also, 19 people will receive the Theodore Roosevelt Leadership Award for company-grade officers and eight will receive the Eagle Rising Award for warrant officers.
Many of the awards will be presented at the 139th General Conference & Exhibition in Louisville, Kentucky, in September.