This year’s recipient will be announced prior to Veteran’s Day on Thursday (November 8). The announcement of the 2018 recipient will be made jointly by Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Executive Director Brant Ringler and FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson on an 11 a.m. (CT) teleconference.
Three of the five individual being for the 2018 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA were also finalists in 2017 when Kansas State and its football team was announced last November as the sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award for the university’s partnership with the United States Army that created a bond between the school’s athletic department and the Iron Rangers at Fort Riley.
U. S. Air Force Academy Coach Troy Calhoun, Robert Morris University president Dr. Chris Howard and Texas Tech University strength and conditioning coach Rusty Whitt lead the list of five individuals name as 2018 finalists after advancing to the final round of voting in 2017. Both Calhoun and Dr. Howard are Air Force veterans and Whitt served in the U. S. Army.
Other individuals named as finalists are defensive back and Air Force veterans Darren Palmer of UNLV and wide receiver and National Guard reservists Casey Stewart of Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va. The lone program advancing to the finals is Athletes Of Valor, an organization that works with active duty military and veterans to help them get recruited to college and play sports.
The Armed Forces Merit Award’s selection committee is made up of five FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. A total of 56 “candidates” were nominated for the 2018 award that was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group with a military background and/or involvement that has an impact within the realm of college football.”
Nate Boyer of the University of Texas, Austin was the initial recipient in 2012. Other recipients were Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas in 2013, Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University in 2014, Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) in 2015 and Steven Rhodes from Middle Tennessee State University.