1978: John Wayne made one of his last public appearances at the 1978 Independence Bowl. Of the award, he said: “You may find many a man more worthy to honor … but you’ll never find one so grateful.”
1979: In selecting Bob Hope, the committee noted: “Mr. Hope is legendary. What he has done for America’s service men and women in the last five decades is incredible … He has given himself unselfishly to entertain and maintain the morale of our fighting men and women during our many conflicts.”
1980: News commentator Paul Harvey, after attending the 1980 game to receive his award, again expressed his appreciation and recognized the Independence Bowl over his thrice-daily nationally-broadcast radio news program.
1981: President Ronald Reagan accepted his bust of General Bradley via video tape after the alleged threat of a Libyan attack required the Secret Service to limit his travel.
1982: Braving plunging temperatures and gusty winds, Art Linkletter donned warm weather gear to accept his award on the playing field during halftime at the 1982 Independence Bowl.
1983: Danny Thomas, in expressing gratitude for his Bradley award, recalled his personal friendship with the General, dating back to the entertainer’s USO tour days of World War II.
1984: The Thunderbirds, as “Ambassadors in Blue” for all Americans, were singled out for being the epitome of the nation’s Air Force community and representing the best of what can be accomplished through teamwork. They received the award following their triumphant 1984 international tour, the first overseas appearance by the Thunderbirds in 13 years.
1985: All Veterans of the Vietnam War were honored for their patriotism, sacrifices and dedication to the principles of American freedom, 10 years after the war in Asia came to a conclusion.
1986: In 1986, it was the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), “for its contributions in science to the betterment of all mankind.”
1987: Brigadier General Charles E. (Chuck) Yeager (USAF, Ret.) was the 1987 honoree for his accomplishments in aviation history, most notably becoming the first man to break the sound barrier.
1988: Grambling State University Head Football Coach Eddie Robinson was the 1988 Bradley award recipient. Named because of his immense contributions to college football, Robinson became the winningest coach in college football history, surpassing both Paul “Bear” Bryant and Pop Warner.
1989: In 1989, the Harlem Globetrotters were honored for the joy and excitement they bring to people of all ages as American ambassadors all over the world.
1990: The Boy Scouts of America had 7,000 in attendance at the 1990 game to receive the award. With Congress’ designation of 1990 as the year of the Eagle Scout, and the Boy Scout program’s emphasis on good citizenship and community service, the committee felt they were a group of young people trying to make this a better country.
1991: In 1991 Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City was honored. This honor precluded, by about three weeks, a nighttime bombing run by Barksdale B-52s, which began the successful Persian Gulf War. Barksdale has been a thriving mainstay in the Shreveport-Bossier City area since 1933.
1992: In 1992 the Shriner’s Hospitals were honored. Shreveport serves as the home of the original Shriner’s Hospital for Crippled Children, opened in 1922. There are currently 22 Shriner’s Hospitals throughout the United States, three of which are burn hospitals, while the other 19 are orthopedic units. Children are treated for ailments such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida and scoleosis among many others. The local Shriner’s Hospital treats as many as 7,500 children each year, coming from the United States, Mexico and Central America. This institute is now called the Shriner’s Hospital for Children.
1993: Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner became the first female recipient of the prestigious Omar Bradley “Spirit of Independence Award.” Her confidence and determination to overcome gender bias and barriers has been a great inspiration for many Americans.
1994: The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) was recognized during its 150th anniversary as a worldwide movement. The YMCA is the largest non-profit community service organization in America. It works to meet the health and social service needs of 13.5 million people.
1995: For more than 75 years, the Northwest Louisiana Chapter of the American Red Cross has provided emergency aid such as food, shelter, clothing and medical assistance to victims of natural and man-made disasters, and in 1995 this organization became the 18th Omar Bradley Award recipient. The Red Cross, a humanitarian organization led by volunteers, provides relief to victims of disasters and helps people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.
1996: The Veterans of Foreign Wars, with over 2 million members, was honored as the 1996 recipient of the Omar Bradley award. What a fitting tribute to those who have served their country abroad, in an effort to protect the freedoms that we all enjoy and often take for granted.
1997: Each day 700,000 sworn law enforcement officers put on their respective uniforms and put their lives on the line as they take on the responsibility of serving and protecting citizens throughout the United States. That is why the Fallen Law Enforcement Officers became the 1997 recipient of the Omar Bradley Award. Dating back to 1794, when Marshal Robert Forsyth became the first known officer ever to die in the line of duty, men and women have taken on the task of law enforcement with the knowledge that each day could be their last. But still they proudly wear their uniforms and do their jobs, even when many don’t get the respect they deserve as law enforcement officers.
1998: Every year in the United States about 100 American Firefighters are killed in the line of duty and another 87,000 are injured. A career that once had a mission statement of saving lives and protecting property has now taken on a much broader meaning. In 1998 the Sanford Independence Bowl honored the nation’s Firefighters for their dedication and protection.
1999: Whether it was the men who stormed Normandy on D-Day or the women who flew transport missions, the Veterans of World War II were part of what has been described as the most defining event of the 20th century in American history. World War II brought out the ultimate spirit, sacrifice and commitment of the American people to the common defense of the nation and to the broader causes of peace and freedom from tyranny throughout the world.
2000: Before retiring in 1968, General Gabriel P. Disosway finished a distinguished military career by serving as commander of the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Command, which is charged with maintaining peak combat efficiency in the tactical missions of fighter, reconnaissance and assault airlift. It further trains air and ground crews as required for the overseas commands of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Pacific Air Forces. A native of Pomona, Calif., General Disosway graduated from Wichita Falls High School, Wichita Falls, Texas in 1927 and then attended the University of Oklahoma. He entered the U.S. Military Academy in July 1929, graduated and was commissioned a second lieutenant of Field Artillery in June 1933. He achieved the rank of General (4-star) in 1963.