Okla. senator receives Academy's first character, leadership award

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe received the Air Force Academy's Character and Leadership Award Feb. 22, making him the award's first recipient.

The award is given to a U.S. citizen whose life, professional career and community service endeavors exemplify the finest examples of exemplary character and leadership in public service.

"Senator Inhofe embodies the leadership and character traits we strive to instill in our 4,000 cadets through a sustained body of work in his professional career and community service, demonstrating integrity, excellence and service," said Col. Joe Sanders, director of the Academy's Center for Character and Leadership Development. "He will serve as a role model and exemplar to current and future Air Force Academy cadets."

For the initial award, the Academy selected a senator who is an Army veteran, a seasoned aviator and a previous member of the Academy's Board of Visitors.

Inhofe began his career of service as an enlisted soldier in the Army, 1957-1958. After his Army tour, Inhofe went into private business and returned to college in his hometown of Tulsa to graduate in 1973. He continued in the private sector, while also starting his political career by winning election to the Oklahoma House of Representatives and later the state Senate. He then moved on to serve as mayor of Tulsa for three terms.

In 1986, Inhofe moved up to the national stage, beginning the first of four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1986. He then moved over to the U.S. Senate to fill a vacated post in 1994, and has held that Senate seat ever since.

Along the way, the senator has sponsored and pushed legislation on the G.I. Bill reform and pilot's bill of rights.

Inhofe is a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The senator also holds a commercial pilot's license and has flown more than 15,000 hours. Inhofe also became the only member of Congress to fly an airplane around the world when he recreated Wiley Post's legendary trip around the globe.

The Character and Leadership Award was presented at the conclusion of the Air Force Academy's National Character and Leadership Symposium Feb. 20-22. Hosted by the CCLD, the annual NCLS is the cornerstone of the center's programs to develop cadets into leaders of character.

Inhofe designated the $100,000 gift to the Academy in his name from the Anschutz Foundation of Denver to the CCLD's Second-Class Cadet Servant Leadership Seminar and the Political Science Department's Academy Assembly.