Patriot Awards Gala
One of the highlights of the 2023 Convention is the Patriot Awards Gala, a black-tie celebration presented by Patrick F. Taylor Foundation in the stunning held in the stunning US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center that will honor the service and commitment of our nation’s 65 living Medal of Honor Recipients. The evening program will feature the presentation of awards to four accomplished Americans who embody the principles upon which our nation is founded; exemplify the values of courage, commitment, and selfless service; and exhibit patriotism, valor, and fidelity. The awards include:
The Society’s highest honor, the Patriot Award is reserved for individuals who, through their life’s work, have distinguished themselves as Americans dedicated to freedom and the ideals represented by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
WWII veteran, entrepreneur, corporate executive, and philanthropist Paul Hilliard embodies the values of commitment, sacrifice, and patriotism. At 17 years old, Hilliard joined the United States Marine Corps, flying 45 combat missions in the Pacific during World War II as a radioman and gunner in Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers. Following the war and college, he entered the oil and gas industry and founded Badger Oil in Lafayette, Louisiana. Over nearly two decades, he has become one of The National WWII Museum’s most ardent advocates, supporting its educational mission and the preservation of oral histories and aircraft as well as serving as Chairman of the Board from 2018–2020.
Bob Hope Award for Entertainment
The Bob Hope Award is reserved for those persons who, through their life’s work in the entertainment industry, have distinguished themselves by outstanding service to or positive portrayal of the United States Military in literature or film.
Throughout his successful career as one of the most well-respected actors, writers, and filmmakers of our time, Tom Hanks has embodied the same American values that motivated WWII servicemembers, inspiring new audiences and younger generations through his creative and civic work. As an avid advocate for the preservation of WWII history and media representation, Hanks has starred in or executive produced several WWII projects, including the highly acclaimed film Saving Private Ryan; the iconic HBO miniseries Band of Brothers and The Pacific; the upcoming miniseries Masters of the Air; the naval thriller Greyhound; and The National WWII Museum’s 4D experience, Beyond All Boundaries. He has worked tirelessly in support of military caregivers, serving as campaign chair of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s Hidden Heroes Campaign. As honorary Chairman of the Museum’s Road to Victory Capital Campaign, he was instrumental in its development into the preeminent museum on World War II.
John R. “Tex” McCrary Award for Journalism
The “Tex” McCrary Award is reserved for those persons who, through their life’s work, have distinguished themselves by service or unbiased coverage of the United States Military through journalism in peace and war.
Journalist and producer Robin Roberts has made a remarkable impact both locally and nationally through her reporting. A Mississippi native and a Southeastern Louisiana University alumna, Roberts is known for her work with ESPN and as co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America. A self-proclaimed “Air Force brat,” Roberts is the daughter of Colonel Lawrence Roberts, who served as a WWII pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen. Roberts honored her father’s legacy by producing and narrating the Tuskegee Airmen: Legacy of Courage documentary with her production company, Rock’n Robin Productions; narrating a video on the Tuskegee Airmen for The National WWII Museum’s Fighting for the Right to Fight special exhibit; and is currently producing a documentary on the Harlem Hellfighters, an all-Black WWI military infantry unit. Throughout her career as a journalist, Roberts has reported on different aspects of the US military, including covering V-E Day commemorations and bringing national attention to decorated US Navy Seal Chris Kyle and his widow, Taya.
Distinguished Citizen Award
The Distinguished Citizen Award is reserved for those persons who, through their life’s work, have distinguished themselves as Americans dedicated to freedom and the ideals represented by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
Renowned actor, producer, author, entrepreneur and humanitarian Wendell Pierce, a New Orleans native, has been an indispensable force in his local community. Known internationally for his roles in The Wire, Treme, Jack Ryan, and Suits, as well as his Tony Award-nominated performance in Death of a Salesman on Broadway in 2022, Pierce is a fierce advocate for his hometown, helping shed light on the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and leading the nonprofit Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corp, which has become one of the largest affordable, single-family, energy-efficient developments in New Orleans. He is the son of Amos Pierce, a decorated WWII veteran whose segregated Army unit helped Marines win the Battle of Saipan. To help preserve the legacy of the WWII generation, Pierce voiced Sergeant Thomas McPhatter in The National WWII Museum’s 4D experience, Beyond All Boundaries, and narrated portions of its interactive What Would You Do? experience.