Bradley Award Recipient
U.S. Army Lt. General Joseph M. Cosumano Jr. to recieve prestigious honor
It’s a good bet none of the 43 previous recipients of the Omar N. Bradley “Spirit of Independence” Award did not think what retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Joseph M. Cosumano Jr. thought when told he would be receiving this year’s award at the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl.
“My first thought was that I didn’t want to accept it at all,” LTG Cosumano said with a chuckle.
He wasn’t being dismissive. He was being humble.
“Everything I’ve done in life has always been a team sport,” LTG Cosumano said. “I told the guys when they told me – the guys who informed me – that I would accept it on behalf of all the soldiers, airmen, sailors and everybody I served with for 36 years, and the people I worked with in the defense industry after that. It really is a team effort; I just happened to be the guy who’s going to be given something for it.”
During LTG Cosumano’s illustrious military career, many of his biggest contributions came away from the battlefield. Serving in a variety of roles, LTG Cosumano led efforts to give those soldiers, airmen and sailors the best tools possible to do their job – protect America.
“When I came on active duty in 1968, it was the height of Vietnam,” LTG Cosumano remembered. “As I continued to serve, it became obvious to me that this old equipment that we were using during the Vietnam era really was stuff left over from World War II. As we looked at what the future might be, our adversaries in the competitive world we live in were modernizing, and we had to be able to keep up with our adversaries. At that time, it was a Cold War, and we certainly didn’t have any modernization programs that would keep us on par with our adversaries.”
But with LTG Cosumano’s help – especially as program manager of the National Missile Defense – those programs were developed. For example, if you’re old enough to remember watching television coverage of Desert Storm – part of the Gulf War (1990-1991) – you recall watching Patriot Missiles knocking incoming rockets out of the sky.
LTG Cosumano, please take a bow. “I deployed a Patriot unit to Turkey because we thought Saddam Hussein was going to attack Turkey to try and bring NATO into the war, but in fact, he attacked Israel,” LTG Cosumano said. “In Desert Storm, I saw combat but not in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, but in a different light. I saw because we had the Patriot system, we could protect Turkey, where my units were, and, of course, the Patriots did a great job in protecting Saudi Arabia – protecting Israel. There’s nothing like being there, either temporarily or deployed, to understand what the soldiers and sailors and airmen need.”
Throughout his career, LTG Cosumano brought that understanding to lawmakers – the people who write the checks to pay for the equipment.
“I was one cog in the wheel,” LTG Cosumano said, once again with a humble tone. “We had the right congressional leadership. We had the right presidential leadership and the right military leadership. It all came together to modernize us in the mid-1980s, that really put our adversaries on notice and caused – in my mind – the Soviet Union to collapse. After the turn of the century, in the 2000 period of time, we had the right leadership again, and we still have the right leadership, to continue to modernize and upgrade our equipment so that we can never have a fair fight. You never want to have a fair fight. You always want to be better than the next guy.”
LTG Cosumano’s final assignment was commanding general of the Space and Missile Defense Command and the U.S. Army Space Command. After leaving the military, where he was awarded many medals, LTG Cosumano worked for several companies, dealing with issues related to the Department of Defense.
It is not lost on LTG Cosumano, who is 73 years old and lives in Ft. Payne, Ala., that he is receiving the Spirit of Independence award from his hometown bowl game. LTG Cosumano was born and raised in Shreveport (Woodlawn High School) before graduating from Northwestern State College in Natchitoches. There, LTG Cosumano was a member of ROTC and graduated with a degree in industrial technology.
“Sometimes, you actually wonder if you’re going to take certain steps in your life,” LTG Cosumano said. “This award far exceeds anything I had ever hoped for, dreamed of, or even considered that I would be eligible to receive.”
As always, that’s LTG Cosumano being humble.