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Distinguished Service Award
Retired Col. Jock Schwank received the Academy’s 2011 Distinguished Service Award during the Parents’ Weekend parade Sept. 2. (Courtesy Photo)
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‘60 grad receives distinguished service award

Posted 9/6/2011   Updated 9/6/2011 Email story   Print story


by Steve Simon
Air Force Academy Graduate and Donor Liaison

9/6/2011 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- A 1960 graduate of the Air Force Academyreceived the Academy's 2011 Distinguished Service Award during the Parents' Weekend parade here Sept. 2.

Retired Col. Jock Schwank was named the 2011 winner in a letter from Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould in June.

"When I received General Gould's letter, I was quite surprised and extraordinarily humbled," Schwank said. "I am truly fortunate that for more than 40 years I have been able to serve the Academy, cadets and preppies, the graduate community and my classmates."

The award is a "true testament" to Schwank's "exemplary support throughout the years," Gould wrote in his congratulatory letter.

Schwank's career highlights included serving as a transport pilot and combat search and rescue helicopter pilot during the Vietnam war and later as assistant professor and deputy head of the Behavioral Sciences and Leadership Department. He retired in 1981 as commander of the Academy Preparatory School.

Schwank was elected to the Association of Graduates' board of directors in 1979. During his two four-year terms, he rose to the positions of vice president, then president and chairman. During his tenure, he oversaw hiring the first civilian executive director and the first director of development. He served in the non-paying position of acting executive director until the position was filled.

In addition, he was the driving force behind the decision to construct an AOG headquarters building and to site it on Academy grounds, and he oversaw the fundraising to pay for its construction and operation. During the early design of the building, named Doolittle Hall, Schwank led development of a highly functional facility that could host a broad spectrum of functions and special events, including alumni events, award ceremonies, formal dinners, retirements and seminars. The building is also currently used for a number of cadet character and leadership events.

Schwank subsequently served as the Association of Graduates' first vice president for services, a position he held for 12 years. During that time, he led the expansion and enhancement of AOG services, best exemplified by making his staff the go-to agency for reunion planning and the execution of special events. Schwank developed the Life Membership at Graduation program, the Joint Service Academy Career Conferences and the Service Academy Business Resource Directory.

"From cadet to faculty member to deputy department head to Prep School commander, his influence has been both broad and steep," said William Thompson, AOG's current president and CEO. "While many people have played important roles in founding and building the AOG, no one has had an impact greater than (Schwank's). From 1979 right up through today, Colonel Schwank has been both leader and worker, and the AOG's success is a credit to him."

Schwank has remained active in Academy matters since retiring from the AOG in 2001, serving since 2003 as treasurer of the Friends of the Air Force Academy Library. Schwank led the Friends' effort to develop an online historical database containing details of the lives and passing of more than 170 graduates whose names are engraved on the Graduate Memorial Wall. He is a former member of the Falcon Foundation and a charter member of the Sabre Society donor organization.

Dean of the Faculty Brig. Gen. Dana Born called Schwank "an inspiration leader and tireless worker" who "clearly demonstrates the Air Force core values of Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do."

Born added, "Similar to previous award winners ... he has been and continues to be an exemplary leader to both cadets and graduates alike and is the epitome of the values and dedication desired in all those who serve our great nation."

The Academy established the Distinguished Service Award in February 1999. Each year the award is presented by the superintendent to an individual or organization whose contributions have had a distinct impact on the morale or well-being of the Academy. The Distinguished Service Award recognizes those who contribute to the betterment of the Academy through their personal generosity and dedication to the institution.

12/2/2013 6:06:45 AM ET
I was in the Prep School class of 1982-83 he was still the commander then.
Ron McGill, United States
9/11/2011 7:48:46 PM ET
Col Schwank was one of my instructors at the Academy in the mid 70's and I still remember him to this day as one of the best that I had. He stood out among other faculty as one who cared deeply about what he was doing for us. I am extremely happy to see that he has received this award.
Steve Fikar, Shalimar Fl
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