Sen. Webb Named Mason’s 2010 Commencement Speaker

Posted: March 8, 2010 at 1:04 am, Last Updated: March 5, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Sen. Jim Webb

Virginia’s U.S. Sen. Jim Webb will be the speaker at the George Mason University 2010 Commencement, to be held Saturday, May 15, in the Patriot Center.

More than 7,000 graduates are expected to receive their diplomas at this ceremony, which will be the university’s 43rd commencement exercise. Mason has graduated more than 130,000 students in its history.

Elected to the U.S. Senate in 2007, Webb brought with him a diverse resume as a combat Marine in Vietnam, an attorney, a senior defense department official, an Emmy award-winning journalist, a filmmaker and the author of nine books.

On his first day in office, Webb introduced a comprehensive GI Bill for those who have been serving in the military since Sept. 11, 2001, and within 16 months he had guided the legislation through both houses of Congress.

Along with Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, he created the Wartime Contracting Commission, which has responsibility for bringing accountability for fraud, waste and abuse in contract processes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Webb also designed and chaired a series of committee hearings and conferences to examine the issues of mass incarceration and policies toward drugs.

Webb serves on the Armed Services, Foreign Relations, Joint Economic and Veterans Affairs committees. He chairs the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs on the Foreign Relations Committee and the Personnel Subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee.

Webb graduated from the Naval Academy in 1968, receiving the Superintendent’s Commendation for outstanding leadership contributions while a midshipman, and subsequently chose a commission in the Marine Corps.

First in his class of 243 at the Marine Corps Officers’ Basic School in Quantico, Va., Webb served with the Fifth Marine Regiment in Vietnam, where as a rifle platoon and company commander in the infamous An Hoa Basin west of Danang he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals and two Purple Hearts.

He later served as a platoon commander and as an instructor in tactics and weapons at Marine Corps Officer Candidates School, and then as a member of the Secretary of the Navy’s immediate staff, before leaving the Marine Corps in 1972.

Webb received his JD at Georgetown University Law Center in 1975.

He served as counsel to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs from 1977 to 1981. In 1982, he led the fight for including an African American soldier in the memorial statue that now graces the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, and he wrote the inscription at the base of the flag pole.

In 1984, he was appointed the first assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs. In 1987, he became the first Naval Academy graduate in history to serve in the military and then become Secretary of the Navy.

In addition to his public service, Webb has enjoyed a long career as a writer. He has written nine books, including “Fields of Fire,” a novel about the Vietnam War; “Born Fighting,” an ethnography that explores how the Scots-Irish shaped America; and “A Time to Fight,” his latest best-selling nonfiction work.

He has worked extensively as a screenwriter and producer in Hollywood, taught literature at the Naval Academy as its first visiting writer, traveled worldwide as a journalist and earned an Emmy Award for his PBS coverage of the U.S. Marines in Beirut. In 2004, Webb went into Afghanistan as a journalist, embedded with the U.S. military.

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