Recent MPP graduate honored for distinguished service in Afghanistan

May 8, 2012

Two days before receiving his Master of Public Policy, Neal Carter (MPP '12) received another well-deserved honor: the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.

The commendation dates back to World War II and has been known as the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal since 1994. It is awarded to a person serving in a capacity with the Navy or Marine Corps who distinguishes himself with meritorious achievement or service. A platoon commander in Afghanistan, Capt. Carter was recognized for replacing a senior officer who had transferred to another unit and serving above his pay grade for several months.

The award is typically awarded at the end of a deployment, but Carter ended his six years of active duty Marine Corps service to enter the Ford School just as his unit was returning to Afghanistan. He was surprised to learn his fellow officers had remembered his distinguished service even while he was in Michigan.

"Not only was I surprised that I was receiving the award, I was grateful that they had taken the time to draft it and process it," he said. "I was not expecting my brothers in arms to make time in Afghanistan to write an award for me."

Carter received the medal in a ceremony on April 26. In keeping with Marine Corps tradition, Carter requested the medal be presented in a ceremony before wearing it on his uniform. He reached out to Ford School colleagues Marine Captain Rodney Sapp (MPA '12) and Navy Lieutenant Rick Scott (MPP '13), who are both active duty personnel and Naval ROTC instructors at the University. They enlisted the help of the University's NROTC commanding officer, Navy Captain Rick Vanden Heuvel, to preside over the ceremony and present the medal. Marine Corps Reserve Major Sharif Sokkary (MPP '12) read the citation.

"I greatly appreciate everyone taking the time out of their schedules to be there for me," said Carter, who is now a Marine Corps reservist. "I'd also like to highlight that a lot of men and women who are serving are awarded a lot less for doing a lot more than what I did, both at home and overseas. They certainly deserve to be recognized as well."