John O. Marsh, Jr. has been selected as the recipient of the 2014 Gerald R. Ford Medal for Distinguished Public Service. The medal was presented by Red Cavaney, Chairman of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, and Carla Hills, Foundation Trustee at the annual dinner of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation on June 2, 2014 at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington, DC.
The Honorable John O. Marsh, Jr. was one of the closest and most trusted advisors to President Gerald R. Ford. His extraordinary public service career began when he served in the United States Army during World War II. Mr. Marsh then served in the Army Reserve and the Virginia National Guard, earning Senior Parachutist Wings and serving a brief tour of active duty in Vietnam. Mr. Marsh retired from the National Guard as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Mr. Marsh was elected to the United States House of Representatives and served eight years. In 1973, Mr. Marsh was appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Richard Nixon. In 1974, he was named National Security Advisor for then Vice President Gerald R. Ford. Then when Vice President Ford became President, Mr. Marsh was named Counselor to the President and held Cabinet rank.
Mr. Marsh was named Secretary of the Army by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. During 1988 he served concurrently as Assistant Secretary of Defense. Upon his retirement in 1989, his tenure was the longest of any United States military secretary in history. Later that year, he undertook a special assignment as Legislative Counsel to the Secretary of Defense streamlining the defense procurement process. Mr. Marsh was appointed by former Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney as Chairman of the Reserve Forces Policy Board where he served from 1989 -1994.
Mr. Marsh has been awarded, on six occasions, the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award and has been decorated by the governments of France and Brazil. He received the Presidential Citizens Medal in 1989. The John O. Marsh, Jr. Armory, a Virginia National Guard facility in Woodstock, Virginia, was named and dedicated in Marsh’s honor in 1996.
President Ford reflected on Mr. Marsh’s years of service and of his respect and admiration for one of his closest advisors. In his autobiography, A Time to Heal, President Ford wrote:
“Anyone who can make thirty-eight parachute jumps while serving as a Congressman has to be fairly calm and unflappable. And Jack was certainly that. But he was also a man of incredibly good judgment.”
Throughout his long and distinguished public service career, John O. Marsh, Jr. has demonstrated the personal and professional qualities exemplified by President Gerald R. Ford – Strength of Character, Diligence, Patriotism, Sound Judgment, and Integrity. He is a worthy recipient of the Gerald R. Ford Medal for Distinguished Public Service.”
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation fosters increased awareness of the life, career, values and legacy of America’s 38th President. It does so through activities designed to promote the high ideals of integrity, honesty, and candor that defined President Ford’s extraordinary career of public service. The Foundation promotes the ideals, values, commitment to public service and historical legacy of President Gerald R. Ford and further promotes greater civic engagement and recognition of integrity wherever it exits in the public arena. It supports permanent and changing exhibits designed to promote historical literacy; conferences; educational outreach and other programs, both scholarly and popular, including at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum.
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