65th U.S. Secretary of the Navy John Francis Lehman, Jr. Receives Naval War College Foundation 2023 Sentinel of the Sea Award

Nov 7, 2023

Daniel E. Holland, III, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Naval War College Foundation; The Honorable John Francis Lehman, Jr., 65th U.S. Secretary of the Navy; RADM Peter A. Garvin, USN, President of the U.S. Naval War College, The Honorable Sean J. Stackley; and CAPT George E. Lang, Jr. USN (Ret.), President and CEO of the Naval War College Foundation.

The Honorable John Francis Lehman, Jr., the 65th U.S. Secretary of the Navy, received the Naval War College Foundation’s (NWCF) Sentinel of the Sea Award in recognition of his meritorious conduct, self-sacrifice, vigilance, and dedicated service to the Nation. Naval War College Foundation Chairman Daniel E. Holland III presented the award on Friday, November 3, at the New York Yacht Club in New York City, NY.

The Sentinel of the Sea Award is the highest honor presented by the NWCF to distinguished American citizens representing the traditions and values of the U.S. Naval War College (USNWC). Awardees have demonstrated a sustained commitment to maintaining our Nation’s security, liberty, and strength. Throughout the evening, attendees heard firsthand how Secretary Lehman’s visionary leadership impacted the tribute speakers and encouraged them to serve their country. “Mr. Secretary, I heard your call, and in March of 1981, I reported for duty to Officer Candidate School in Newport, and you spoke at my Commissioning later that June. Your words of inspiration carried me through four years at sea, my tours of duty serving in the Reserves in Naval Intelligence, and compelled my interest in geopolitics that continues to this day,” said Daniel Holland in his remarks. “I thank you for your leadership and inspiration.”

NWCF Chairman Daniel E. Holland III speaks at the podium.

The Honorable Sean J. Stackley, who served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research,  Development, and Acquisition from 2008 to 2017, and as Acting Secretary of the Navy in 2017, provided a tribute to Lehman ahead of the award presentation. “The father of the 600-ship Navy, John Lehman is arguably the most influential Secretary of the Navy in our history. And as a former Naval Officer and Acting Secretary, I am proud to have served in Lehman’s Navy. He is most deserving of the Sentinel of the Sea Award.”

The Honorable Sean J. Stackley pays tribute to Secretary John Francis Lehman, Jr.

During his acceptance speech, Lehman emphasized the importance the USNWC holds around the world and urged attendees to continue their support of the NWCF. “This is a very special occasion for me because the Naval War College occupies a unique position in the world. It is recognized all over the world everywhere – China, Russia – everywhere there’s a Navy, as a source of Naval wisdom,” said Lehman. “It has been the Foundation that has kept alive, kept encouraging, kept motivating, and funding, in many cases, the kinds of scholars, and the kinds of serving officers that think about maritime superiority, the freedom of the seas, and above all, deterrence.”

Secretary Lehman served six years as Secretary of the Navy and 25 years in the Naval Reserve. He was a staff member to Dr. Henry Kissinger on the National Security Council, a delegate to the Force Reductions Negotiations in Vienna, and Deputy Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Lehman was a member of the 9/11 Commission and the National Defense Commission. He holds a B.S. from St. Joseph’s University, a B.A. and M.A. from Cambridge University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University. In addition to his career in public service, Lehman has written several books, including Where are the Carriers? U.S. National Strategy and the Choices Ahead; Oceans Ventured; On Seas of Glory; Command of the Seas; and Making War.

The Honorable John Francis Lehman, Jr., 65th U.S. Secretary of the Navy, gives acceptance remarks at the Sentinel of the Sea Award Gala.

Throughout his speech, Lehman encouraged the audience to remain positive amid the national security challenges we face. “If you read American history… you will find at least eight other periods as bitter or more bitter than what we are currently experiencing…So, we’ve been through this before, and we always produce leaders of the quality and the resonance that are needed,” said Lehman. “That is why it’s so essential what the War College is doing and what the Foundation has been keeping the War College focused on.” He concluded his speech by saying, “Please continue to keep the flame going and to keep supporting the Foundation, which is what keeps the War College leadership able to do what they know needs to be done.”

Secretary Lehman joins ranks with previous Sentinel of the Sea recipients for their dutiful service: General James N. Mattis, USMC (Ret.), 26th U.S. Secretary of Defense; Secretaries of the Navy, the Honorable Paul R. Ignatius and Ambassador J. William Middendorf, II; veteran advocates Gary Sinise and Tom Brokaw; Medal of Honor Recipients Chief Warrant Officer Four Hershel “Woody” Williams, USMC (Ret.), Staff Sergeant Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura, USA (Ret.), First Sergeant Allen J. Lynch, USA (Ret.), Staff Sergeant David G. Bellavia, USA, and Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, USN (posthumously); ADM James “Jim” Hogg, USN (Ret.); and GEN Michael V. Hayden, USAF (Ret.).

Thank you to our generous sponsors who made the 2023 Sentinel of the Sea Award Gala possible!

Commander in Chief – Gift of $100,000
Chairman Emeritus Philip M. Bilden/Shield Capital and Dr. Patricia Bilden
Trustee James Metcalf and Mrs. Renee Metcalf
Trustee Emerita Hope H. van Beuren

Flag Officer – Gift of $50,000
Chairman Daniel E. Holland III and Mrs. Deborah Holland
Trustee Ralph Isham and Mrs. Ala Isham
Trustee Dwight D. Sipprelle and Mrs. Susan Sipprelle
Trustee Archbold van Beuren and Mrs. Helene van Beuren

Commodore – Gift of $25,000
Trustee Stephanie Bennett-Smith
Trustee Duncan Chapman and Mrs. Barbara Chapman
Trustee Dominic Dannessa, Ph.D., and Mrs. Josette Dannessa
Trustee Paul A. Dimitruk and Mrs. Ingrid Dimitruk
Trustee Phil Dunmire and Mrs. Linda Dunmire
Mr. James and Mrs. Deborah Eagan, Eagan Family Foundation
CAPT David Hunter, USN (Ret.) and Mrs. Paula Hunter
J.F. Lehman & Company
Trustee Doug Matthews and Mrs. Kathryn Matthews
The Honorable Juliette C. McLennan, Trustee
Trustee Howard Morgan and Mrs. Ginger Morgan
Northrop Grumman Corporation
Trustee Daniel P. Quigley and Mrs. Jennifer Quigley
Trustee and Secretary Mitch B. Waldman and Mrs. Debbie Waldman

Commanding Officer – Gift of $10,000
Trustee Byron Marchant, Esq.
Chairman Emeritus William A. Obenshain and Mrs. Penelope Obenshain
Regional Director John R. Peracchio
Pritzker Military Foundation, on behalf of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library

Executive Officer – Gift of $5,000
RADM Julius S. Caesar, USN (Ret.), Trustee
CDR Joe Purcell, SC, USN (Ret.)
The Roosevelt Group

Department Head – Gift of $2,500
Mr. James and Mrs. Janet Lanzillo
Chairman Emeritus Joseph Roxe and Mrs. Maureen Roxe/The Roxe Foundation

Additional Generous Contributions
Mr. John Meigs and Mrs. Carolyn Adams
Mr. Larry and Mrs. Florence Adamson
Ms. Margaret Bragg
Regional Director Dale A. Jenkins and Mrs. Sandra Panem
CAPT George E. Lang, Jr., USN (Ret.) and Dr. Wendy Lang
The Honorable J. William Middendorf II
Regional Director Matthew L. Santangelo and Mrs. Benardatte Santangelo
Mr. Matthew and Mrs. Susan Weatherbie
Regional Director Lisa Whisler

All photography courtesy of Hechler Photographers.


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