FORT WORTH, TEXAS (FWAA) – U.S. Army veteran
Bret Robertson, a junior strong safety at Westminster
College in Fulton, Mo., is the fourth recipient of Armed
Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association
of America (FWAA). Coordinated by the staff at the
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces
Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 "to honor
an individual and/or a group within the realm of the sport of football."
Brant Ringler, the Executive Director of the Lockheed Martin
Armed Forces Bowl, and Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald,
the FWAA's President, announced here Wednesday the 25-year old Robertson
as the 2015 recipient during an 11 a.m. (CT) teleconference.
A seven-person committee made up of FWAA members and Lockheed
Martin Armed Forces Bowl officials selected Robertson, who joins
other Army veterans Nate Boyer (Texas, 2012), Brandon McCoy (North
Texas, 2013) and Daniel Rodriguez (Clemson, 2014) as Armed Forces
Merit Award recipients.
After graduating from California (Mo.) High School in 2008, Robertson
enlisted in the U.S. Army where he served more than three years.
He was deployed to Iraq for one year and received the Army Commendation
Medal along with his Purple Heart for his service. "My grandpa,
my brother, and my stepdad all served," Roberson said. "It's a family
thing. I wanted to serve my country."
Robertson also received the Army Good Conduct Medal, National
Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and
the Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star. He was also honored
with the Non Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon,
Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon and a Combat Infantryman
"On this very special day, Veterans' Day 2015, we are pleased
to join with the Football Writers Association of America to honor
Bret Robertson as the fourth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit
Award," said Ringler. "We had list of 18 outstanding nominations
for this year's award and it is difficult to honor only one each
year when we have individuals and programs that are very deserving
of the honor."
Barfknecht echoed Ringler's sentiments along with adding that
the FWAA is "pleased to team with Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
to recognize Robertson's achievement as a veteran that used his
armed forces experiences to benefit his teammates and coaches at
Westminster College. The FWAA also salutes the other 2015 nominations
for their contributions on-and-off the field of play."
A three-season starter for Westminster, Robertson is serving
his second season as the captain on a team that has won five of
eight games in 2015. After missing his freshman season due to injuries,
Robertson has compiled 202 total tackles during his 27-game Blue
Jay career with 125 solo stops. He has also intercepted six passes
(78 return yards) during his career with three forced fumbles, four
fumble recoveries, 7.5 tackles for losses and four pass breakups
in two-plus seasons.
With two games remaining on the 2015 Westminster football schedule,
Robertson is 23 tackles away from breaking the school record for
total tackles in a season. He ranks fourth in his conference in
tackles per game (9.5) as he leads the Blue Jays in total tackles
(76) with 46 solo stops. Robertson also has six tackles for losses
(24 yards), three pass interceptions (20 return yards), two pass
deflections and a fumble recovery.
Robertson was named to the 2014 Upper Midwest Athletic Conference
(UMAC) All-Conference Second Team. He is a member of the Westminster
track team where he holds the javelin record with a 54.44-meter
(178.6-feet) last March after winning the 2014 St. Louis Intercollegiate
Athletic Conference (SLIAC) Championship.
"I am very grateful to have the opportunity to be at Westminster
and compete in both football and track," said Robertson. "Being
on the football team is like being in the Army. You have guys looking
after one another and have a brotherhood that lasts a long time."
In supporting Robertson's nomination for the Armed Forces Merit
Award presented by the FWAA, out-going Westminster College President
George B. Forsythe stated that "Bret has brought his self-discipline,
commitment to service, and exemplary integrity to our campus where
he is a leader in the classroom, on the athletic field, and in the
Dr. Forsythe, who retired from the school this past summer, also
added that he had "gotten to know Bret most closely through the
College's Military Veterans Club. As a retired Army officer with
35 years of active duty service, I meet each semester with our military
veterans at the College to discuss campus life and exchange ideas
on how to enhance our community. Bret has been a leader in this
group, and has participated with his fellow veterans in a wide range
of service projects on campus and in the local community. In addition
to being a full-time student and Division III athlete, Bret makes
time to give back to his community through service. He is an inspiration
to us all."
A Brigadier General in U. S. Army, Dr. Forsythe also said Robertson
"is a curious, engaging, and serious student. This summer, he will
travel to Rwanda and Tanzania as part of a team from our school
to work on service projects in rural areas of those two countries."
Dr. Robert N. Hansen, the Director of Organizational Leadership
Program at Westminster, stated that "in my 42 years of being a college
professor, I've never had a student quite like Bret. He is a terrific
young man who is just now realizing how much he has to offer and
how he can change the world. Even though I knew Bret very well before
this past summer, it wasn't until he became part of my East Africa
Project Team for Humanity for Children (an international humanitarian
organization focusing on the welfare of children and mothers) that
I really became aware of all his strengths. Being together 24/7
for 25 days under tough conditions allowed me to see even deeper
into his beliefs/values, motivations, and backstory."
Dr. Hanson added that "college professors love to see students
stretch beyond what they think they can do. I've seen Bret do this
time and again as he evolved from an "I'm not so smart" self-concept
to an individual capable of high levels of critical thinking and
creative problem-solving. His transformation over the past few years
has been remarkable and we are so proud of the way he has grown
into a fine student and leader. Bret's military experience, including
being wounded in action, has propelled him to think deeply about
how to help other veterans."
Speaking of the day when he was wounded in combat, Robertson
said "it was just a normal day. We were doing security for a convoy
delivering supplies when an EFP went off in front of our truck.
Another went off right beside us that penetrated our truck, throwing
shrapnel throughout and a piece hit me in the left side of my face.
We were lucky that day. There were big chunks of shrapnel stuck
in the armor of the truck a few inches from my face."
In concluding his comments on Robertson, Dr. Hanson said "for
the past 18 months, Bret has been working on his plan to create
a program for vets that includes fitness, service and support. He
has interned with the YMCA, met with veterans to talk about their
needs, conducted research on veterans' transition programs, and
taken classes to develop his social entrepreneurial skills. I see
this theme as a life-long commitment for Bret."
In a school news release last May, it was written that Robertson's
"life is coming full circle in a way he never imagined it would,
as he brings his Westminster College education together with his
military experience in Iraq. At Westminster, Bret is taking something
he is passionate about and learning how to forge that passion into
a career, based on leadership that will improve the lives of others.
A few years ago, however, he never dreamed he would be here. Growing
up, Bret never planned on going to college. Schoolwork has never
come easy for him. In middle school, Bret was diagnosed with learning
differences; he had trouble with spelling and reading comprehension.
In high school in the small town of California (near Jefferson City),
he couldn't see himself going to college, but the military was a
path he knew."
Now seven years after enlisting and four years removed from his
Army experience, Robertson continues to serve both on-and-off the
field of play. For that, Bret Robertson is the 2015 recipient of
the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA.
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The Football Writers Association of America
(FWAA, www.sportswriters.net) consists of the men and women across
North America who cover college football for a living. Founded in
1941, the membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists,
as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game.
The FWAA works to govern areas that include game day operations,
major awards and an All-America team. Through its website, the FWAA
works to improve communication among all those who work within the
game. The FWAA also sponsors scholarships for aspiring writers and
an annual writing contest. Behind the leadership of President Lee
Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald, Executive Director Steve Richardson
and a board of veteran journalists, the FWAA continues grow and
work to help college football prosper at all levels. There are now
over 1,300 members.
Tim Simmons, Armed Forces
Merit Award Coordinator at 720-244-6580 or
Richardson, Football Writers Association of America at 214-870-6516
Bryan Delgado, Bell Helicopter Armed Forces
Bowl at 817-810-0266 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Siegal, ESPN Media at 860-766-2798 or