Three honored Thursday at Jimmie Dyess Symposium

Being honored with her husband and legendary Georgia football coach Vince Dooley during the Jimmie Dyess Symposium provided a unique perspective Thursday for Barbara Dooley.


“I’m usually in the audience watching him get awards so this is a new seat for me,” she said.

The Dooleys, along with Medal of Honor recipient retired Army Col. Roger Donlon, were bestowed the Distinguished American Award at the event at Augusta Museum of History. The Dyess Symposium is held annually in honor of Jimmie Dyess, the only person to receive the nation’s two highest heroism awards – the Medal of Honor and the Carnegie Medal.

The Distinguished American Award is awarded each year to three recipients who have served their communities and country. Barbara Dooley has been active in the Easter Seals, Special Olympics and served on the Board of Trustees of the Winship Cancer Center. Vince Dooley, in addition to coaching the University of Georgia Bulldogs for 25 years and winning the 1980 national championship, has written several books and served on the Georgia Historical Society and the National Civil War Preservation Trust.

“I’m just proud to be in Augusta and be one that is recognized,” he said.

Each year, one of the honorees is also a Medal of Honor recipient. Donlon, the first Vietnam War veteran to receive the Medal of Honor, said the Distinguished American Award was just another blessing in his life. He said he felt the inscription in his wedding band summed up the purpose of the symposium and the honor he was receiving.

“What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God,” Donlon said of the inscription.

Perry Smith, a retired Air Force major general who hosts the symposium named after his father-in-law, noted that the veteran still visits schools to teach patriotism despite suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

The Dooleys and Donlon each received a Medal of Honor coin, which are no longer in production. Their names are also engraved on the Crystal Memorial which is displayed at the museum.