JINSA Presents Reps. Harman and Saxton with 2003 Jackson Award and Presents Grateful Nation Award

The 21st annual Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson Distinguished Service Award was conferred upon Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) and Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ) for their work in Congress on homeland security and national defense issues. The presentations were held on October 27, 2003, at JINSA’s annual Henry M. Jackson Award dinner before an audience of 600 in Washington, DC.

Congressman Saxton is a leading member of the Armed Services Committee and serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities. Congresswoman Harman is the ranking member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and also sits on the Select Committee on Homeland Security.

Outstanding representatives from each branch of the U.S. military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and from the Special Operations Command) were also honored that evening with the “Grateful Nation Award,” created by JINSA to recognize those from the enlisted and junior officer ranks who have distinguished themselves through superior conduct in the War on Terrorism since September 11. The six Grateful Nation Award recipients were each chosen by their respective services. JINSA organized travel for the recipients and their families to Washington, D.C. Vice Admiral Timothy J. Keating, USN, who became Director of the Joint Staff in mid-October, made the presentations to the Grateful Nation recipients on behalf of the Joint Chiefs and the Department of Defense.

“Our men and women of the military deserve our most sincere appreciation for their service and sacrifice during these past two years,” said Major General Sidney Shachnow, USA (ret), a member of JINSA’s Board of Advisors. “Many times it is the Generals and higher-ranking officers who get the plaudits for successful operations – and understandably so. But it is the lower ranks who are most often in the line of fire. Their tremendous courage and devotion to duty deserves frequent public recognition.”

General Shachnow served alongside fellow retired General and Flag Officers on the Grateful Nation Award Liason, which also included Lieutenant General Anthony Burshnick, USAF (ret.), Admiral Leon A. Edney, USN (ret.), Lieutenant General Fred McCorkle, USMC (ret.), Rear Admiral Norman Saunders, USCG (ret.) and Ms. Marilyn Stern, a member of JINSA’s Board of Directors.

The 2003 Grateful Nation Award recipients were:

  • Chief Boatswain’s Mate Stephen Bass, United States Navy. Chief Petty Officer Bass was cited for his “extraordinary heroism” in recovering two Americans trapped by enemy forces in Northern Afghanistan. Bass completed his mission while under constant enemy fire and “without regard for his personal safety,” according to his commanders.
  • First Sergeant John R. Hawley, United States Army. First Sgt. Hawley was cited for his actions with Charlie Company, Task Force Blue Devil, where Hawley was responsible for the operational readiness of all his soldiers in their deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Desert Freedom.
  • Chief Boatswain’s Mate Paula Jaklitsch, United States Coast Guard Reserve. Chief Petty Officer Jaklitsch was cited for “exceptionally superior service” while assigned to Coast Guard Station New York. A reservist and certified financial advisor, Jaklitsch was en route to her office building in Manhattan when the first plane struck the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. That day, Jaklitsch assisted in the evacuation of 300 of her fellow employees and then immediately reported to her Coast Guard station, where she began a two-year tour of duty training fellow reservists activated to homeland security missions. As a result of her leadership, Coast Guard Station New York achieved the highest standards of readiness and received a coveted award, according to her superiors.
  • Master Sergeant Michael Lamonica, United States Air Force. Master Sgt. Lamonica, of the 24th Special Tactics Squadron at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina, served in Afghanistan, where he earned three jump stars and performed the first Air Force military free fall combat jump in history.
  • Major George Thiebes, United States Special Operations Command. Major Thiebes, a U.S. Army Green Beret, was cited for serving “with great distinction and valor” during Operation Iraqi Freedom as commander of a special operations unit that employed unconventional warfare and combat operations to defeat Ansar Al Islam, a terrorist organization dug into the mountains on the Iranian border with Iraq. His unit was also instrumental in the defeat of Iraqi corps and the surrender of the Muhajadeen El Khalq, a 5,000-member dissident Iranian millitary organization.
  • Corporal Seth Wells, United States Marine Corps Reserve. Cpl. Wells, who hails from Battle Creek, Michigan, and is based in Lansing with Company C, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines, was cited for providing critical security, leadership and combat support for his squad during Operation Iraqi Freedom. When not deployed with his unit, Marine reservist Wells is an advisor to troubled teens in Battle Creek and a regular volunteer with the Corps’ annual Toys for Tots Program.