NEWPORT, R.I. - Ambassador J. William Middendorf II, the 62nd Secretary of the Navy, was born Sept. 22, 1924, in Baltimore. He served as Secretary of the Navy from 1974 to 1977 where he oversaw the creation of the Marine Corps Marathon and is credited as one of the architects of the North American Free Trade Agreement. He also served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands from 1969 to 1973, ambassador to the Organization of American States (1981 – 1985), and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union (1985 – 1987).
“I joined the service 80 years ago in Boston and since then, the Navy has been my life”, said Middendorf. “Words cannot express how much this award means to me, and I am incredibly honored. We must continue to face the present threats, measure our adversaries and competitors, and support the Navy as it tackles challenges today and tomorrow.”
Established in 1951, the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award is the highest honor for which civilians not employed by the Department of the Navy can receive. The award is presented by the Secretary of the Navy to honor individuals who have carried out acts of valor or heroism or who have demonstrated exceptionally outstanding service of substantial and long-term benefit to the Navy, Marine Corps or the Department of the Navy as a whole.
“Secretary Middendorf is an accomplished, driven veteran and diplomat who embodied the highest ideals of public service,” said the Honorable Carlos Del Toro, Secretary of the Navy. “This award is a recognition of his achievements, which directly contributed to the more lethal, capable and agile force we have today. We look to historic periods of service, such as Ambassador Middendorf’s, to guide us in our path to maintaining our maritime dominance.”
Notable recipients of the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award are Joe Rosenthal, Sybil Stockdale, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Tom Hanks.