(Editor’s Note: On 21 October 2023, The OSS Society held its annual William J. Donovan Award Dinner to honor the Office of Strategic Services and recognize historical and contemporary figures who embody the spirit of the OSS and national service. This year the following awards were presented:
The Ralph Bunch Award to Ambassador Anne Patterson
The Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Award to Tom Brokaw
The Jack Taylor Award to Admiral Joe Maguire
The William J. Donovan Award to CIA Director William J. Burns
What follows are remarks by the OSS Society President Charles Pinck introducing the awards and this year’s awardees. The Small Wars Journal believes these profound remarks deserve to be widely circulated.)
Hearts Beat Strongest in Response to Noble Ideals
By Charles T. Pinck
"Hearts beat strongest in response to noble ideals."
These words were spoken by Dr. Ralph Bunche. Dr. Bunche was the first African American to receive a PhD in political science from an American university and serve as a state department desk officer.
He served in the OSS’ Research and Analysis Branch, predecessor to the state department’s bureau of intelligence and research.
Following the war, Dr. Bunche help draft the charter for the United Nations.
He negotiated the first peace agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbors for which he received the Nobel peace prize in 1950.
We could use his expertise on the Middle East today.
Dr. Bunche spent the bulk of his career helping colonized nations become decolonized. He was one our nation’s greatest civil rights leaders.
Ralph Bunche’s heart beat strongest in response to the noble ideals of equality and freedom.
Ambassador Anne Patterson is one of our nation’s most distinguished diplomats. She has served with distinction in some of the of the most challenging diplomatic positions as ambassador to Egypt, Pakistan, Colombia, and El Salvador.
Paul Richter wrote that Ambassador Patterson has “gone to the hardest places and done the hardest things.”
Lt Gen Charles Cleveland wrote that “Ambassador Patterson is one of the unsung heroes of post-9/11 diplomacy.”
Ambassador Patterson’s heart beats strongest in response to the noble ideal of American diplomacy as a force for good in the world.
Like Ralph Bunche, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. also served in the OSS’ Research and Analysis Branch, or as it called itself – the “chairborne division.”
Schlesinger was a historian, a social critic, and a public intellectual. The author of more than 20 books, he received the Pulitzer Prize twice. He served as a special assistant to President Kennedy and wrote the definitive account of his presidency.
Ambassador William Vanden Heuvel wrote that Schlesinger was “a great American patriot. He believed profoundly and wholeheartedly in Democracy, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. He was the powerful enemy of totalitarianism wherever it took root. He taught all of us the importance of history.”
Arthur Schlesinger’s heart beat strongest in response to the noble ideal of knowledge.
Tom Brokaw is one of our nation’s most distinguished journalists whose career with NBC news began in 1966. He covered some of the 20th century’s most momentous events: the rise of the 1960s counterculture; the assassination of Robert Kennedy; Watergate and the resignation of President Nixon; and the collapse of the soviet union. He has received every major award for his journalistic achievements.
No one has done more than Tom Brokaw to honor the “greatest generation,” a term he coined for his 1998 book of the same name – one of the most popular nonfiction books of the 20th century.
Like Arthur Schlesinger, Tom Brokaw has taught us the importance of history, too.
Tom Brokaw’s heart beats strongest in response to the noble ideal of truth and understanding.
Jack Taylor was our nation’s first sea, air, and land commando. Taylor served in the Oss Maritime Unit, precursor to the Navy SEALs.
In 1944, Taylor led the OSS’ deepest penetration mission into Austria. After evading the Germans for six weeks, Taylor and his team were captured by the gestapo. Tortured for months, Taylor refused to talk.
He was sent to the notorious Mauthausen concentration camp where he miraculously avoided four scheduled executions. He witnessed and meticulously recorded unimaginable atrocities committed by the Germans.
Following the war, Jack Taylor used the evidence he secretly gathered to testify at the Mauthausen camp trial. His testimony helped to convict 58 defendants.
Jack Taylor’s heart beat strongest in response to the noble ideal of justice.
Admiral Joe Maguire is one of our nation’s most dedicated public servants. After beginning his naval career as a Surface Warfare Officer in 1974, he graduated from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in 1976.
He was a qualified combat swimmer who commanded at every level, including as commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command.
After retiring from the navy in 2010 after 36 years in uniform, admiral Maguire served as the director of the National Counterterrorism Center and as acting Director of National Intelligence, serving as the principal advisor on intelligence matters to the President and the National Security Council.
Admiral Maguire’s heart beats strongest in response to the noble ideal of service.
General William Donovan served in the united states military from 1912 to 1945; in the Justice Department as an Assistant Attorney General and the United States Attorney for the Western District of New York; as a personal emissary for President Roosevelt; as an assistant to the chief prosecutor at Nuremberg; as US Ambassador to Thailand; and as the founder of the Office of Strategic Services.
General Donovan’s heart beat strongest in response to the noble ideal of American Democracy and the institutions that have sustained it for nearly 250 years.
CIA Director Bill Burns is one of the most distinguished diplomats in our nation’s history. He is only the second serving career diplomat to become deputy secretary of state and the first career diplomat to serve as director of CIA.
Over his 33-year diplomatic career, Director Burns has served as the us ambassador to Russia and Jordan; as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs; and as a Special Assistant to Secretaries Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher.
He is the recipient of three presidential distinguished service awards and the highest civilian honors from the Pentagon and the US Intelligence Community.
In his award-winning 2019 memoir, “The Back Channel,” Director Burns wrote that “we are in one of those plastic moments in global affairs that come along once or twice a century – a perfect storm in major shifts in the balance of power, and massive political, economic, technological, and environmental transformations.”
Navigating these tectonic shifts is the greatest challenge our nation faces.
General Donovan was instrumental in helping our nation navigate through the daunting challenges it faced during world war ii.
There is no one better suited to guide CIA through today’s transformative period than director burns.
His heart also beats strongest in response to the noble ideal of American Diplomacy as a force for good in the world, and the symbiotic relationship between diplomacy and intelligence.
This ballroom is filled with people whose hearts beat strongest in response to noble ideals.
These noble ideals that bind us together as Americans:
and, most importantly, Democracy,
Are much stronger than anything or anyone who tries to divide us.
Hearts beat strongest in response to noble ideals.
Charles T. Pinck
October 21, 2023