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North Honored with George Rogers Champion of Freedom Award

November 12, 2014
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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As a part of the Military Appreciation celebration during Saturday's football game, Liberty University presented the George Rogers Champion of Freedom Award to recipient Oliver North, a decorated veteran who continues to support his country and fellow servicemen and women.

The George Rogers Champion of Freedom Award was named after George Rogers, a veteran of World War II, who served in the United States Army. While serving in the Philippines during WWII, Rogers was taken prisoner by the Japanese along with thousands of American and Philippine troops. They were forced to march about 75 miles in five days, known as the Bataan Death March. The troops were sent to POW camps where many died of starvation and abuse. Rogers was one of the very few survivors of the camps.

In 2012, Rogers received recognition for his service by being awarded the Purple Heart and Prisoner of War Medal. To honor this man and his tremendous sacrifices for our nation, Liberty University has named an award in Rogers' honor. The George Rogers Champion of Freedom Award is given annually to a man or woman who served in the United States Armed Forces and went above the call of duty, displaying extraordinary heroism while serving.

North, this year's recipient, served 22 years as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. His awards for service in combat include the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for valor and two Purple Hearts for wounds in action.

Assigned to the National Security Council staff during President Ronald Reagan's administration, North was the United States government's counter-terrorism coordinator from 1983-86.

North was involved in the planning of rescuing 804 medical students on the island of Grenada and played a major role in the capture of the terrorists who hijacked the cruise ship Achille Lauro. After helping plan the U.S. raid on Muammar Qaddafi's terror bases on Libya, North was targeted for assassination by Abu Nidal, the infamous terrorist killed in Baghdad in August, 2002. Reagan described North as "an American Hero".

This year marks the fifth year that Liberty has honored a veteran with the George Rogers Champion of Freedom Award.

In 2011, the recipient of the award was Steve Bozeman of the United States Marine Corps. Bozeman enlisted in January 1966. Following boot camp and infantry training, Bozeman was sent to Vietnam for two years, acting as both a helicopter mechanic and a machine door gunner.

Bozeman was honorably discharged in 1970, but that did not stop him from continuing his support of fellow servicemen and veterans. Bozeman continued running to stay in shape, completing over 200 marathons since 1978. Bozeman has run over 77 ultra-marathons and five 100-milers.

Bozeman has served as chairperson to a number of memorial efforts for veterans, including bringing the Moving Wall to Lynchburg on Memorial Day in 2000, attracting over 20,000 visitors in four days. His continued works have not gone unnoticed, as he has been named both the Marine of the Year (1993) and the Vietnam Veteran of the Year (2000) for the state of Virginia.

The 2012 award recipient was Tim Lee, a Vietnam War veteran and evangelist. Lee, who lost both of his legs in 1971 during the Vietnam War, views his disability not as a tragedy, but as an opportunity to share God's love through his evangelical ministry.

On March 8, 1971 Lee and his team were sent on a mine sweep, with Lee taking point. Later that afternoon, Lee stepped on a sixty pound box mine. During the next several months, thirteen major operations were performed. God had taken the legs that had carried Lee away from His will. Lee's running finally ended, turning back to God for guidance. Lee has used his testimony as an explanation to not throw in the towel, but to recommit when the times are tough.

Last year's recipient was Clebe McClary who was critically wounded during an enemy attack while in Vietnam on March 3, 1968. Despite his injuries, McClary continued to lead his men as they battled the enemy hand-to-hand before successfully withdrawing his unit from the hostile area. His devastating injuries included the loss of his left arm and left eye as well as a prognosis that he would never walk again. After two years in military hospitals, 30 major surgeries and countless hours of physical therapy, McClary walked out to begin a new life as an inspirational speaker.

McClary received three Purple Hearts and was presented the Silver Star and the Bronze Star for bravery by the President of the United States.

Thank you to all veterans and all current servicemen and women for the continued service to this country. The sacrifices made to provide our freedoms as Americans are greatly appreciated.

By David Fox, Liberty Athletics Communications Graduate Assistant