WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2011 – The Defense Department, the family of late actor and comedian Bob Hope and the Wiegand Foundation honored six people with the Spirit of Hope Award for their selflessness and commitment to troops during a Pentagon ceremony today.
“We come together each year to present the Spirit of Hope Award, as we will do today, to individuals and organizations that were nominated by the Army, the Marine Corps, the Navy, the Air Force, the Coast Guard and the Office of the Secretary of Defense,” said Michael L. Rhodes, OSD'S director of administration and management.
The Spirit of Hope Medal recipients are:
Janice Bridges, Army
Ronald Katz, Marine Corps
Petty Officer 1st Class Jamar Salters, Navy
Elaine Savage, Coast Guard
Tech. Sgt. Leray Smedley, Air Force
Segs4Vets received the organization award from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
“[These] six recipients reflect the patriotism that Bob and Dolores displayed throughout their lives,” Rhodes said. “They carry on the values that the Hopes represented -- honor, courage, loyalty, commitment, integrity and selfless dedication -- which are the criteria we place on the award.”
Rhodes praised Hope, who died July 27, 2003, as “an American hero” and “self-proclaimed ambassador of goodwill.”
“Both Bob and Dolores Hope will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Americans,” Rhodes said, “especially with the men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform of this nation and to defend our freedoms.
“For decades, they lifted our spirits, brought smiles to our faces and especially those of American service members around the world,” he continued. “There are generations of troops who have stories about when they saw Bob Hope.”
Rhodes detailed Hope's touring USO shows, which began during World War II and spanned the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf conflicts.
During his USO tours, Hope was able “to touch the soul and raise the morale and spirits of individual service members,” Rhodes said.
The U.S. Congress, he added, designated Hope an honorary veteran in 1997. Rhodes quoted then-President Bill Clinton who lauded Hope after signing the 1997 legislation: “In times of war and peace, good times and bad, he entertained our troops and brought them a familiar and comforting sense of home while they defended our nation's interests around the world.”
Bob Hope's son, Kelly Hope, shared his thoughts following the presentation.
“I'm so grateful to represent my family today, especially at this most prestigious and wonderful event,” he said.
Kelly Hope praised the USO for helping his father to reach U.S. troops serving worldwide.
“Without [USO's] support, Dad could not have accomplished the goal he set out to do -- to bring a little bit of home to those stationed far away overseas,” he said. “Along with the Spirit of Hope, may today's deserving recipients grasp and take with them your best wishes and the spirit of God, who guides us all.”
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
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