Daniel E. Holland, III, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Naval War College Foundation; The Honorable John Francis Lehman, Jr., 65th U.S. Secretary of the Navy; RADM Peter A. Garvin, USN, President of the U.S. Naval War College, The Honorable Sean J. Stackley; and CAPT George E. Lang, Jr. USN (Ret.), President and CEO of the Naval War College Foundation.

65th U.S. Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, Jr. receives Naval War College Foundation 2023 Sentinel of the Sea Award

The Honorable John Francis Lehman, Jr., the 65th U.S. Secretary of the Navy, received the Naval War College Foundation’s (NWCF) Sentinel of the Sea Award in recognition of his meritorious conduct, self-sacrifice, vigilance, and dedicated service to the Nation. Naval War College Foundation Chairman Daniel E. Holland III presented the award on Friday, November 3, at the New York Yacht Club in New York City, NY.

The Sentinel of the Sea Award is the highest honor presented by the NWCF to distinguished American citizens representing the traditions and values of the U.S. Naval War College (USNWC). Awardees have demonstrated a sustained commitment to maintaining our Nation’s security, liberty, and strength. Throughout the evening, attendees heard firsthand how Secretary Lehman’s visionary leadership impacted the tribute speakers and encouraged them to serve their country. “Mr. Secretary, I heard your call, and in March of 1981, I reported for duty to Officer Candidate School in Newport, and you spoke at my Commissioning later that June. Your words of inspiration carried me through four years at sea, my tours of duty serving in the Reserves in Naval Intelligence, and compelled my interest in geopolitics that continues to this day,” said Daniel Holland in his remarks. “I thank you for your leadership and inspiration.”

The Honorable Sean J. Stackley, who served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research,  Development, and Acquisition from 2008 to 2017, and as Acting Secretary of the Navy in 2017, provided a tribute to Lehman ahead of the award presentation. “The father of the 600-ship Navy, John Lehman is arguably the most influential Secretary of the Navy in our history. And as a former Naval Officer and Acting Secretary, I am proud to have served in Lehman’s Navy. He is most deserving of the Sentinel of the Sea Award.”

During his acceptance speech, Lehman emphasized the importance the USNWC holds around the world and urged attendees to continue their support of the NWCF. “This is a very special occasion for me because the Naval War College occupies a unique position in the world. It is recognized all over the world everywhere – China, Russia – everywhere there’s a Navy, as a source of Naval wisdom,” said Lehman. “It has been the Foundation that has kept alive, kept encouraging, kept motivating, and funding, in many cases, the kinds of scholars, and the kinds of serving officers that think about maritime superiority, the freedom of the seas, and above all, deterrence.”

Secretary Lehman served six years as Secretary of the Navy and 25 years in the Naval Reserve. He was a staff member to Dr. Henry Kissinger on the National Security Council, a delegate to the Force Reductions Negotiations in Vienna, and Deputy Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Lehman was a member of the 9/11 Commission and the National Defense Commission. He holds a B.S. from St. Joseph’s University, a B.A. and M.A. from Cambridge University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University. In addition to his career in public service, Lehman has written several books, including Where are the Carriers? U.S. National Strategy and the Choices AheadOceans VenturedOn Seas of GloryCommand of the Seas; and Making War.

Throughout his speech, Lehman encouraged the audience to remain positive amid the national security challenges we face. “If you read American history… you will find at least eight other periods as bitter or more bitter than what we are currently experiencing…So, we’ve been through this before, and we always produce leaders of the quality and the resonance that are needed,” said Lehman. “That is why it’s so essential what the War College is doing and what the Foundation has been keeping the War College focused on.” He concluded his speech by saying, “Please continue to keep the flame going and to keep supporting the Foundation, which is what keeps the War College leadership able to do what they know needs to be done.”

Secretary Lehman joins ranks with previous Sentinel of the Sea recipients for their dutiful service: General James N. Mattis, USMC (Ret.), 26th U.S. Secretary of Defense; Secretaries of the Navy, the Honorable Paul R. Ignatius and Ambassador J. William Middendorf, II; veteran advocates Gary Sinise and Tom Brokaw; Medal of Honor Recipients Chief Warrant Officer Four Hershel “Woody” Williams, USMC (Ret.), Staff Sergeant Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura, USA (Ret.), First Sergeant Allen J. Lynch, USA (Ret.), Staff Sergeant David G. Bellavia, USA, and Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, USN (posthumously); ADM James “Jim” Hogg, USN (Ret.); and GEN Michael V. Hayden, USAF (Ret.).