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USF student earns Medal of Honor Foundation scholarship

Alex Walker is one of eight in the U.S. to earn the national award in 2017.

USF student Alex Walker was one of eight students across the United States to earn the 2017 Medal of Honor Scholarship from the Congressional Medal of Honor (MOH) Foundation.

Walker, a midshipman in USF’s Naval ROTC Buccaneer Battalion, was presented with the award by MOH recipient CSM Gary Littrell, U.S. Army (Retired), and Michael Caldwell, chief operating officer of the MOH Foundation. The ceremony was held Sept. 5 in the C.W. Bill Young Hall, which houses the USF ROTC program and its Joint Military Leadership Center.

Alex Walker with his parents Todd and Julie Walker.

This is the first time a USF ROTC student has earned the scholarship since the MOH Foundation Scholarship Program began in 2006. Walker’s award includes a $4,000 award and a hardcover copy of the Foundation’s signature book, Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty, which was signed by MOH recipient CSM Littrell.

Walker, who is majoring in physics and maintains a 3.91 grand point average, met the stringent criteria for the scholarship, including both leadership and academic performance, and strong letters of recommendation.

“There are details on the criteria but, basically, Walker is an excellent leader, a superb student, and a private pilot with a very bright future ahead!” said USN Lt. Jeffery Ledford, assistant professor of Naval Science at USF and Walker’s advisor.

In addition to acknowledging the significant accomplishment by Walker, the ceremony was also momentous because it included a MOH recipient to present the award, Ledford said. During the ceremony at USF, CSM Littrell presented Walker with his challenge coin, telling Walker that, while other MOH recipients have given out hundreds of their personal challenge coins, he only has a hundred of them to present– “That’s how selective I am with giving these out.”

Joining the celebration were Walker’s parents and grandparents. Beaming with pride, both mother and father admit that excelling is a long-time trait for their son.

“He’s always been a high achiever,” said his father, Todd. “It’s in his DNA. He’s always looking for ways to improve his position. That’s the same with this scholarship. He found it, applied for it and jumped through all the hoops to get it.”

Walker joined USF after graduating in 2015 from Gulf High School as the #1 student in Pasco County. Working through Pasco’s online E-School program, Walker was able to advance across curricula at his own pace. He was also able to participate in sports at Gulf High School, where he lettered in three sports – tennis, golf and soccer. Walker is also a pilot, taking his first solo flight at age 16 and earning his license at age 17.

From left, parents Todd and Julie Walker, MOH recipient CSM Gary Littrell, Alex Walker, and grandparents Audrey and John Zavodny.

The Congressional Medal of Honor was first presented in 1863. Since then, of the more than 43 million men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, only about 3,500 have received the medal, half of which were awarded before World War I. Today, there are 72 living recipients.

Photos by Midshipman Delone Manns, USF Naval ROTC.

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