The U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association awarded the 2015 Naval Academy Alumni Association Distinguished Graduate Award to four alumni for lifelong achievement and service to the nation in a ceremony before the Brigade of Midshipmen, March 27, in the Alumni Hall.
The recipients are retired Adm. Henry H. Mauz Jr., class of 1959; retired Adm. Richard W. Mies, class of 1967; retired Adm. James O. Ellis Jr., class of 1969; and Mr. David M. Robinson, class of 1987.
The Distinguished Graduate Award, established in 1999, honors Naval Academy alumni who have provided a lifetime of service to the nation or armed forces, have made significant distinguished contributions to the nation via their public service, and have demonstrated a strong interest in supporting the Navy or Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Academy.
"Selecting today’s honorees from a field of accomplished alumni was both challenging and humbling; challenging because there are so many truly amazing graduates who deserve recognition, and humbling to have the opportunity to rub shoulders with these and so many other distinguished graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy," said retired Marine Corps General Peter Pace of the Class of 1967, chairman of the Distinguished Graduate Award Committee. "This great institution continues to serve as the foundation of patriotism, comradery and character that has sustained these leaders, and put them on their path to success."
Mauz has embodied the ideals of duty, honor and country starting his Navy career in destroyers and commanding river patrol boats in Vietnam. He has served as commanding officer of a cruiser, Chief of Staff for Commander, Carrier Strike Group One, and was assigned as Chief of the Operations and Readiness Branch at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. He was also the Battle Force Commander during the strikes against Libya in 1986, then Deputy Chief of Staff and Acting Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
"I am humbled, honored, and a bit surprised to be here," Mauz said. "I would like to express my great appreciation to the class of ‘59 and the Monterey chapter of the Alumni Association for nominating me for this award and I stand on giants in our Navy and our history. To the Brigade, please remember that you are embarking on a heroic profession and you have the opportunity to do great things and contribute vitally to our country."
Mies had a distinguished career in the submarine service, including tours in both attack and missile submarines. He has served as commander of Submarine Development Squadron Twelve, Chief of Staff, Pacific Submarine Force, commander of Submarine Group Eight, commander of Allied Submarines, Mediterranean, and Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Command.
During his time at the Academy, Mies earned awards in wrestling and Sprint Football, served as Deputy Brigade Commander and graduated first in his class. He has continued his education, completing his post-graduate studies at Oxford University, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Harvard University, holding a master’s degree in government administration and international relations.
"I’m deeply honored and humbled to have been selected for this award," said Mies. "Throughout my life I have been extremely blessed, blessed with devoted parents, inspirational teachers, devoted coaches, and exceptionally talented leaders. It is highly important to cherish the men and women you lead, share with them the special trust and confidence that has been place with you.”
Ellis has exemplified “from knowledge, sea power” throughout his career, from his Navy test pilot days through time as Commander-in-Chief, Allied Forces, Southern Europe. His career included tours with VFA-131, LaSalle (AGF-3), USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) and Carrier Battle Group 5. He also served as Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Naval Forces, Europe and Allied Forced, Southern Europe and Commander, U.S. Strategic Command.
Ellis also served on the board of the World Association of Nuclear Operations and co-chaired the U.S. delegation to the U.N. Convention on Nuclear safety. He was a presidential appointee on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and the Military Advisory panel to the Iraq Study Group.
"All of us in the class of ‘69 walked good, if different paths," said Ellis. "The real honor comes from those with whom we began the journey and the many, many more that we met along the way. What you will share with all of us who have gone before, is the deepest admiration for those of whom you serve with.”
Robinson, the only player from Navy to play in the NBA, spent two years on active duty in the Civil Engineering Corps at King’s Bay Submarine Base as Assistant Resident Officer-in-Charge of Construction. He also spent six years in the Navy Reserve working in the Navy Public Works Department in Washington, and time as a spokesman for Navy recruiting and anti-drug campaigns.
After his Navy career, Robinson went on to play for the Spurs for 14 years and earned the nickname “The Admiral”. He became an NBA All-Star, an MVP, NBA Champion, and an Olympic gold medalist. During his time at the Academy, he led Navy basketball to 82 wins in three years and was the NBA’s No. 1 draft pick in 1987 but delayed his basketball career to serve his country.
"This is an incredible honor for me and I feel like the child on the dais next to these great men that represent a tremendous amount of experience and wisdom," said Robinson. "I have such an admiration for them and they have called me ‘The Admiral’ for so long but today the gig is up. My relationship with the Naval Academy and the Navy has been tremendous; my time here has prepared me in a tremendous way for everything that I have done in my life.”
After the ceremony, the award winners mingled with Midshipmen at a post-event reception. The future Navy and Marine Corps officers got the opportunity to personally talk with the 2015 Distinguished Graduates about their careers and experiences.
"These graduates have provided a lifetime of service to our nation and our Naval service," said Midshipman 1st Class Ward Scott, president of the Class of 2015. "They have demonstrated unwavering support for the Naval Academy and it’s an honor to meet them in person and learn from for all that they have accomplished.”