Coast Guardsman Wins 2006 Spirit of Hope Award Posthumously

WASHINGTON – A Coast Guard World War II veteran, Marvin J. Perrett, is the 2006 Spirit of Hope award winner.

The award, the Spirit of Hope medal, was presented today during ceremonies at the Pentagon by Army Chief of Staff General George W. Casey, Jr.. to Mr. Perrett’s daughter, Melissa Cook of Chicago.

Mr. Perrett passed away in May this year at the age of 81. He was a resident of Metairie, Louisiana. He distinguished himself through life-long service to the nation and the United States Coast Guard. He began his service to his country in World War II where he served as a Coxswain of the Higgins landing craft during the D-Day invasion at Normandy, the invasion of Iwo Jima, and the invasion of Okinawa.

Following his military service Mr. Perrett dedicated his life to honoring the men and women that served in World War II. He played an integral part in establishing the National World War II Museum in New Orleans and was featured in numerous documentaries and news programs about the war.

He spent over 20 years of his life educating thousands of people on the Coast Guard and World War II. Mr. Perrett exemplified the values and character of Bob Hope, displaying an unrelenting desire to entertain and tell the story of the brave work of the men and women of the military. The Spirit of Hope award is presented by the Spirit of Hope Foundation and each of the five U.S. Military services to a person or entity who embodies the values of duty, honor, courage, loyalty, commitment and integrity.

Upon accepting the award, Mrs. Cook said, “The “Spirit of Hope” award is a beautiful tribute my father’s optimism, zest for life, and longstanding mission to travel the world as an informal Coast Guard ambassador. He learned his most important life skills in the service and held the Coast Guard in highest regard. He also loved Bob Hope and never missed his USO specials on TV. In recent years, he harbored his own dreams of going to entertain the troops in Iraq, telling more than one military official, “Have seabag — will travel!”

Rear Admiral Joel Whitehead accompanied Mrs. Cook in accepting the award. He is Commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District and Commander of Maritime Defense Command Eight, headquartered in New Orleans, and a long-time family friend.

Whitehead said, “Marvin James Perrett was one of the thousands of young men who, in the days after Pearl Harbor, stood, raised his hand, and took the oath to fight for the freedoms formerly enjoyed in times of peace. His skill as a seaman and his countless acts of selfless devotion to the soldiers, sailors and Marines he brought ashore to the bloody beaches of Normandy on D-Day and on Iwo Jima, will be forever remembered, and preserved in the words the historians have left for us. He was a true American hero.”

Mr. Perrett was invited in 2004 as a guest of the French government for the 60th anniversary of D-Day, where he was one of 100 U.S. veterans inducted into the French Legion of Honor with the rank of Chevalier.

He appeared in numerous documentaries including “Secrets of the Dead: D-Day,” “D-Day: A Call to Courage,” “Iwo Jima: 36 Days of Hell,” “Andrew Higgins: The American Noah.”

He also appeared in a documentary on the history of the U.S. Coast Guard which was broadcast on the A&E cable network program, “Brute Force,” narrated by the late George C. Scott. In addition, he appeared on television programs such as “Oliver North’s War Stories” and two episodes of “Mail Call” with R. Lee Ermey.

Mr. Perrett was a recipient of the Coast Guard’s Distinguished Public Service Award, the service’s highest civilian honor. Information about Marvin Perrett’s Coast Guard service can be found on the Coast Guard Historian’s Webpage.

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