Navy Capt. Thomas Kelley, former Georgia Gov. Carl Sanders and Lou Brissie received the Jimmie Dyess Award during the ceremony at the Augusta Museum of History. Carl Sanders Jr. accepted the award on behalf of his father, who was not present because of poor health.
The symposium was created to preserve the legacy of Lt. Col. Jimmie Dyess and honor outstanding Americans who have made significant contributions to the nation and their community.
“We need to honor him, we need to use him as a role model so that young people will see him as a more important role model than somebody out in Hollywood or someone out on the sports field,” said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Perry Smith, the event’s founder.
Dyess, who lived in North Augusta and attended the Academy of Richmond County, earned the Carnegie Medal, the highest civilian medal for heroism, for saving two swimmers off the coast of South Carolina in 1929. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for valor in combat in World War II.
At the ceremony, award recipients shared stories about their lives and military service.
Brissie returned to his baseball career after enlisting in the Army and recovering from a combat-related injury. After retiring from pitching, he led the American Legion baseball program, during which time he took an all-star team to play in Central and South America.
“Those young men, I’ve never been more proud of a group in my life,” Brissie said. “They made a favorable impression in every country we played.”
Kelley said he was inspired to join the Navy after meeting a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps instructor at the College of Holy Cross. Kelley lost an eye while leading a convoy of boats against attacks from hostile forces in South Vietnam.
Sanders, a native of Augusta, was Georgia governor from 1963 to 1967. He served as a B-17 bomber pilot in World War II.