Last month in Washington D.C., the United States Navy Memorial honored two College of the Holy Cross alumni with the esteemed Lone Sailor Award. The Lone Sailor Award is given to Sea Service veterans who have excelled with distinction in their respective careers during or after their service. The award recognized the achievements of Ambassador John William Middendorf II ’45 of the U.S. Navy and Robert S. Morrison ’63 of the U.S. Marine Corps.
“It was such an honor to be present while two Holy Cross graduates were celebrated for their honor, courage and commitment and for their life-time accomplishments in business and civic life,” said Tracy Barlok, vice president of advancement, who attended the event in our nation’s capitol. “Both men spoke about how important Holy Cross and our Naval ROTC program was to the formation of who they are today. These graduates are wonderful examples of how our Jesuit heritage, combined with our commitment to the classic liberal arts, define our students as men and women for others.”
Former Secretary of the Navy and Ambassador to the Netherlands, Middendorf served in World War II’s Pacific Theater as an engineering officer and navigator. He was the founding Chairman of the U.S. Navy Memorial and co-founder of the Marine Corps Marathon, at which the winner receives the Middendorf Award. During his service as secretary of the Navy, he oversaw the establishment of the General Dynamics facility at Quonset Point which is now one of Rhode Island’s largest employers. Before becoming a public servant, Middendorf founded a major wall street firm, Middendorf Colgate and Co.
Middendorf is the author of the two books “Glorious Disaster: Barry Goldwater’s Presidential Campaign and the Origins of the Conservative Movement” (Basic Books, 2006) and “Potomac Fever: A Memoir of Politics and Public Service” (Naval Institute Press, 2011). He continued to serve in leadership positions beyond the Navy on many boards of directors and councils, such as the Council of American Ambassadors and as Chairman for forty years of both the Defense Forum Foundation and the Committee for Monetary Research and Education. Leading a well-balanced life of intellectual and athletic pursuits, Middendorf has composed more than one hundred marches as well as the Holland Symphony he presented to the Dutch Queen Juliana on the 25th anniversary of her ascension to the throne. He has run eight Marine Corps Marathons and was a member of the U.S. Field Hockey National team.
Middendorf graduated from Holy Cross with a B.A. in naval science, where he was a cadet at the College’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps unit founded in 1941, one of the oldest units in the country. He went on to earn B.A. from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from the Stern School of Business at New York University.
Retired vice chairman of PepsiCo, Inc., Morrison served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1963 – 1967. He rose through the ranks to become a captain and was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam in 1965.
Morrison’s service as a leader continued well beyond his time in the Corps. Prior to the 2001 PepsiCo merger, he led The Quaker Oats Company as chairman, president, and chief executive officer. He served as the chairman and chief executive officer of Kraft Foods Inc., joining Kraft in 1983 and serving as the president of Kraft Refrigerated Products Group, president of Kraft General Foods Canada, and president of General Foods USA. Currently, Morrison serves as a director of Illinois Tool Works Inc. and AON Corporation. He is a director and trustee for several civic and cultural organizations in Chicago, including the Museum of Science and Industry and Rush University Medical Center.
Morrison graduated Holy Cross with a B.A. in English. He went on to earn his master’s in business from the Wharton Graduate School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He serves as a trustee of the College.
Middendorf and Morrison are two of the many Sea Service men and women who have served their country and exemplified the core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment.
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