The Friends of the Vietnam Veterans Plaza will honor Jan C. Scruggs, founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), as the tenth annual honoree of the Phelps Award. The Phelps Award recognizes outstanding individuals who have distinguished themselves by bringing exemplary honor and support to veterans, and especially Vietnam Veterans.
“It is with a great sense of admiration that the Friends of the Vietnam Veterans Plaza board of directors names Jan Scruggs as the 2014 recipient of the Phelps Award which recognizes outstanding individuals who bring honor to our veterans in an exemplary way,” said Harry Bridgwood, Chairman of the Friends of the Vietnam Veterans Plaza. “Jan is truly deserving of this award for his outstanding dedication to honoring Vietnam veterans, begun over three decades ago, and his unwavering and ongoing commitment to honor America’s legacy of military service, our veterans and those who are serving today.”
“It is quite an honor to be chosen for this award amongst such a distinguished group of previous award winners. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial welcomed home Vietnam veterans in 1982 and today my mission continues with the campaign to build the Education Center at The Wall. The Center will teach future generations about America’s legacy of service and make sure that the faces and stories of our heroes are never forgotten. When the Center is built, Vietnam veterans will welcome home the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, who will also be honored there,” said Scruggs.
Scruggs was a wounded and decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, having served in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade of the U.S. Army. In 1979, he conceived the idea of building the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., as a tribute to all who served during one of the longest wars in American history. Today, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is among the most visited memorials in the nation’s capital. Scruggs launched the effort with $2,800 of his own money and gradually gained the support of other Vietnam veterans in persuading Congress to provide a prominent location on federal government property somewhere in Washington, D.C. The site
chosen was on the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial.
As president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the nonprofit organization created to build and maintain the Memorial, Scruggs headed up the effort that raised $8.4 million and saw the Memorial completed in just two years. It was dedicated on November 13, 1982, during a week-long national salute to Vietnam veterans in the nation’s capital. Scruggs continues to lead VVMF as it enters a new phase in its mission to remember those who sacrificed in Vietnam: building the Education Center at The Wall. The Education Center will show the photos and tell the stories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War, as well as celebrate the values embodied by American service members in all of our nation's wars.
The Phelps Award was designed by artist John Phelps, a Navy veteran who served during the Vietnam War. In 2003, John Phelps began working with the Friends of Vietnam Veterans Plaza on the award, resulting in the creation of a sculpted replica of a Vietnam era battle helmet. The battle helmet is mounted on a handcrafted green glass-block, inscribed with excerpts from the “letters home,” also engraved on the New York City Vietnam Veterans Memorial located in the Plaza at 55 Water Street.
The Friends of Vietnam Veterans Plaza named their Honoree of the Year Award to recognize the service of John Phelps and his son, Marine Corps Lance Corporal Chance Russell Phelps. Chance was killed in action while conducting combat operations west of Baghdad on April 9th 2004. He was nineteen years old.
Scruggs joins a distinguished list of past Friends of the Vietnam Veterans Plaza Honorees of the Year including:
2005 – Rudolf W. Giuliani, 107thMayor of the City of New York
2006 – Dr. David G. Bronner, CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama
2007 – The Honorable Edward I Koch, 105th Mayor of the City of New York
2008 – Donald J. Trump, Chairman & President, The Trump Organization
2009 – Arnold L. Fisher, Fisher Houses
2010 – Raymond W. Kelly, New York City Police Commissioner
2011 – Salvatore J. Cassano, New York City Fire Commissioner
2012 – General Peter Pace, USMC (Retired)
2013 – Tom Ridge, President & CEO of Ridge Global, Former Governor of Pennsylvania
The 2014 award will be presented at a luncheon at The Metropolitan Club in New York City on November 12, 2014.