Welsh named 2015 Great American Patriot Award recipient

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Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III has been named the 2015 Armed Forces Bowl’s Great American Patriot Award recipient.

The Great American Patriot Award honors a candidate in recognition of their exemplary service to this nation.

"This award is not about me, but honors the more than 660,000 Airmen who make the United States Air Force the greatest in the world," Welsh said. "Each one of them is a patriot in their own right and I couldn't be more proud to serve alongside such dedicated Americans."

The general will receive the award Dec. 29 during halftime of the 2015 Armed Forces Bowl, which pits Welsh's alma mater, the U.S. Air Force Academy, against the University of California, Berkeley.

"General Welsh is exactly the type of individual we envisioned when we created the Great American Patriot Award 10 years ago," said Brant Ringler, the executive director of the Armed Forces Bowl. "We couldn't be more proud to add his name alongside our previous recipients as he has proven his leadership and dedication to our country countless times throughout his career."

Welsh is responsible for the organizing, training and equipping of more than 660,000 Airmen serving around the globe. As the senior uniformed officer of America's Air Force, Welsh is also a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he and other service chiefs serve as military advisers to the secretary of defense, National Security Council and the president.

"Following graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy, he has held a plethora of diverse billets in ever-increasing positions of responsibility that prepared him well for his current role as chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force," said retired Marine Lt. Gen. Garry L. Parks, the chairman of Armed Forces Insurance, which administers the award.

Candidates for the award must be of high moral fiber and good character, having spent their lives and/or careers serving the common good of the U.S. They should have gone beyond the call of duty to serve and protect this country, with proven dedication and loyalty in upholding the Constitution and the laws of the nation. Finally, the Great American Patriot Award winner should have worked tirelessly to make the U.S. a better and safer place for all its citizens.

Welsh will be the second Air Force Academy graduate to receive this award. Retired Gen. Norton Schwartz, the 19th Air Force chief of staff, received the award in 2012. In addition to Gens. Welsh and Schwartz, previous winners of the Great American Patriot Award include Marine Gen. Peter Pace, Medal of Honor recipient Salvatore Giunta and Adm. William McRaven.