2001: On September 11, 2001 the lives of all Americans, and especially New Yorkers, changed forever. The destruction of the twin towers and other buildings in the World Trade Center changed not only the skyline of Manhattan, but also the entire free world. The staggering list of those missing and presumed dead at the World Trade Center exceeds 3,000, including some 350 New York City Firefighters, 40 New York City Police Officers and at least 30 members of the Port Authority. Despite the extreme horror of that day’s event, we saw the extraordinary valor of firefighters, police officers, emergency service workers, parks enforcement patrol officers, medical personnel, construction workers, ordinary citizens and many others who ran to the disaster scene to help. Many of these people ran into the collapsing towers to pull people out. The entire City of New York refused to give in to the chaos caused by a few madmen.
2002: The Congressional Medal Of Honor Society of the United States of America is perhaps the “most exclusive organization” in our country — it is certainly one of the most unique. Its small membership includes men of all races, social classes and economic levels. They range in stature from 5’2″ to 6’5″, in age from 48 to 90, and they live in all areas of our Country. Among them are scholars and ordinary men, successful entrepreneurs and struggling laborers, ministers and misfits, very rich to very poor. No amount of money, power or influence can buy one’s rite of passage to this exclusive circle, and unlike almost any other organization, this group’s members hope that there will be NO MORE INDUCTEES. Beyond this attitude towards recruitment, about all they have in common is a passionate love for the United States of America and the distinct honor of wearing our Nation’s highest award for military valor, The Medal of Honor.
2003: Shreveport’s own Hal Sutton was chosen as the 2003 recipient of the Omar N. Bradley “Spirit of Independence Award,” for being named the 2004 U.S. Ryder Cup team captain, as well as his stellar play and leadership throughout his career in internationl competition. Sutton has been a member of four Ryder Cup Teams, in 1985, 1987, 1999, and 2001, and has compiled a record of 7 wins, 5 losses and 4 halves. He was named PGA Player-of-the-Year in 1983, only his second season on tour, and won the 1980 U.S. Amateur Championship. Along with his Ryder Cup participation, Sutton was also named to the 1988 and 2000 Presidents Cup teams; the 1979 and 1981 Walker Cup Teams; and the 1986 Nissan Cup Team. He formed the Hal Sutton Foundation in an effort to give back to the Shreveport community, which has supported him throughout his career. The Foundation has evolved into an organization that will financially support improving children’s healthcare, in particular the building of a children’s hospital in Shreveport, LA.
2004: Independence Bowl officials were thrilled to announce retired four-star General Tommy Franks as the 2004 recipient of the Omar N. Bradley “Spirit of Independence Award.” Since its inception in 1978, this honor has been bestowed upon outstanding American citizens who symbolize the spirit of freedom and independence. Referred to as the “soldier’s soldier,” Franks ended his 38-year military career on August 1, 2003. During that span he served in four wars, was awarded three purple hearts and four Legion of Merit medals, earned an undergraduate degree in business administration and a Master’s in public administration and most recently spearheaded military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan after the September 11th attacks, as commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command. He was named Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire this past May and is currently on tour promoting his memoirs, American Soldier, released in ’04.
2005: General Russel Honore, a native of Lakeland, La., is one of the country’s most decorated and experienced military figures. Most recently, General Honore served as Commander, Standing Joint Force Headquarters- Homeland Security, U.S. Northern Command. General Honore took charge and lead countless volunteers in the Hurricane Katrina and Rita recovery operation in the late summer and fall of 2005. Under Honore’s direction, thousands of stranded citizens were provided for and rescued from the Gulf Coast region following arguably the most devastating and destructive natural disaster in our nation’s history. Honore has served in a variety of command and staff positions throughout his distinguished career. His overseas assignments include tours in both Korea and Germany. He served as Commanding General, 2nd Infantry Division in Korea; Vice Director for Operations, J-3, The Joint Staff, Washington D.C.; Deputy Commanding General and Assistant Commandant, United States Army Infantry center and School, Fort Benning, Georgia; and Assistant Division Commander, Maneuver/Support 1st Calvary Division, Fort Hood, Texas. General Honore’s awards and distinctions include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with four Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Army Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.
2006: General Harold Moore, a native of Bardstown, Ky., retired as a 3-star General from the Army in 1977 after over 32 years of active service. Moore was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant of Infantry in 1945 and proceeded to serve and command at all levels from Platoon through Division. Moore researched and wrote a book, We Were Soldiers Once….and Young in 1992. The book focused on the first major battle of the Vietnam War, the “Battle of la Drang” from Nov. 14-16, 1965 in Vietnam. The book, which spent 17 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list after its release, was made into a movie in 2002, with Mel Gibson playing the character of Gen. Moore. Galloway and Moore each participated in the “Battle of la Drang”, with Moore serving as Battalion Commander on the ground and Galloway as a UPI correspondent. Moore attended George Washington University for two years and then received his military appointment in 1942 and graduated from West Point in 1945. Moore was the first of his class (1945) to be promoted to brigadier general, major general, and lieutenant general. Moore served in the Korean War as a Company Commander and Regimental S3 (7th Division), and served in Vietnam as a Battalion and Brigade Commander (1st Cav.). Moore was also Commanding General of the 7th Infantry Division in Korea and Commander of Ft. Ord, Calif. He also served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, Department of the Army. Moore was the recipient of the “2003 USO Patriot Award”, two Combat Infantryman Badges, and the Distinguished Service Cross (United States).
2007: PetroSun Independence Bowl officials are pleased to announce Shreveport-Bossier Community Renewal as the 2007 recipient of the Omar N. Bradley “Spirit of Independence Award”. Since its founding 13 years ago, Community Renewal has touched the lives of more than 1,700 at-risk youth. The organization connects caring partners who turn their neighborhoods into safe havens of friendship and support. More than 25,000 people have joined the “We Care” team and over 850 have been trained to serve as Haven House leaders who help renew the city one neighbor and one city block at a time. Shreveport-Bossier Community Renewal believes that communities are revitalized through three strategies: The Renewal Team, which connects individuals, businesses, churches and others to create a more caring community; Haven House, which enlists residents to reach out to neighbors on the street where they live; and Friendship House, which brings hope to long-neglected neighborhoods struggling with crime, drugs, and unemployment. Other cities, such as Austin and Abilene, Texas, are now copying the model and bringing renewal to their communities. The National Center for Community Renewal is in development and will be based in a downtown Shreveport building that was donated to the organization. For more information about Community Renewal and how you can support this outreach and help it grow, go to www.SBCR.us. Thank you to David Westerfield, Director of Communications, Mack McCarter, and the organization’s web site, www.SBCR.us for providing the majority of the information used in this release.
2008: “Team Hoyt” is the 2008 recipient of the Omar N. Bradley “Spirit of Independence Award.” “Team Hoyt” is a father-son combination of Dick and Rick Hoyt from Massachusetts that travels the world to compete in marathons and triathlons including the “Ironman”- that daunting, almost superhuman, combination of 26.2 miles of running, 112 miles of bicycling, and 2.4 miles of swimming. Together they have climbed mountains, and once trekked 3,735 miles across America.Rick, with the help of his dad, has competed in the Boston Marathon 26 times, and in Ironman Triathlons six times. The Hoyts have competed in over 965 athletic events in the last 28 years. The goal of “Team Hoyt” is to integrate the physically challenged into everyday life. One way to accomplish this is to educate the able-bodied, making them more aware of the issues that the disabled face every day. Another is by actively helping the disabled to participate in activities that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. Team Hoyt targets both of these areas. For the past 28 years Dick, who is 68 and a retired lieutenant colonel in the military for over 37 years, has pushed and pulled his son across the country and over hundreds of finish lines. When Dick runs, Rick is in a wheelchair that Dick is pushing. When Dick cycles, Rick is in a seat-pod attached to the front of the bike. When Dick swims, Rick is in a small but heavy, firmly stabilized boat being pulled by Dick.At Rick’s birth in 1962 the umbilical cord coiled around his neck and cut off oxygen to his brain. Dick and his wife at the time, Judy, were told that there would be no hope for their child’s development. At age 46 Rick is a graduate of Boston University with a degree in Special Education. The Hoyts have appeared on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” where their segment recently won a Sports Emmy Award for Best Long feature. Team Hoyt also travels the world speaking out about people with disabilities and promoting the Team Hoyt motto, “Yes You Can.”