Unruh earns Legion of Merit medal

April 30, 2002 5:53 p.m.

Kirk Unruh, director of development relations, has received the Legion of Merit medal, one of the military's highest awards.

Unruh, who holds the rank of rear admiral, was honored for his outstanding performance while serving as deputy commander of the Maritime Defense Zone Atlantic, which plans for the defense of vital sea areas, including ports, harbors and navigable waters of the United States and overseas in time of war.

In that position, Unruh served as an advocate and consensus builder for Homeland Security, force protection and Naval Coastal Warfare. He also was a principal architect of the Maritime Defense plan ensuring harbor security during New York City's International Naval Review in 2000, which set a precedent for Navy and Coast Guard collaboration.

In presenting the award, Vice Admiral Thad Allen of the U.S. Coast Guard cited Unruh for his "exacting professionalism and superb leadership," including visits to Coast Guard and Navy personnel handling New York City security and recovery operations in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Many of our Coast Guard and Navy sailors had been involved in the rescue operations 24 hours a day for four straight days," said Unruh. "We went up to learn firsthand what they were doing and thank them for it."

Unruh, a Navy reservist, served in this position from October 1999 through September 2001. He now serves the Navy as deputy commander of the Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, headquartered in Norfolk, Va. He also has command of the Naval Reserve Readiness Command Midwest based at Great Lakes, Ill. In that position, he supervises the training of 7,200 Navy reservists assigned to units in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Unruh received his commission in the Navy in 1970 after graduating from Princeton.

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601