July 1, 2005 | Press Release

FDD Academic Fellow Sergeant Joseph Skelly Awarded Bronze Star


Honored for His Work to Rebuild Iraqi Universities


Washington, D.C. (July 1, 2005) – The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) congratulates 2003-2004 Academic Fellow Dr. Joe Skelly on being awarded the Bronze Star for his “exceptionally meritorious service” in Iraq.


            “Sgt. Skelly epitomizes all the good that U.S. forces are accomplishing on behalf of the Iraqi people,” said David Silverstein, FDD vice president of campus programs.  “These stories infrequently make the national headlines, but his achievement reminds us that our men and women in uniform are bravely working to defeat the terrorist threat by all means including rebuilding communities and preparing a new generation of Iraqis to become leaders in their country.”


            Dr. Skelly, a professor of history at Mount St. Vincent College in New York, is a reservist currently serving in the Diyala province of Iraq as public education officer with the U.S. Army's Alpha Company, 411th Civil Affairs Battalion of the 42nd Infantry Division.  Since arriving in Iraq in September, 2004, he has helped refurbish Yarmouk University and Baquba Technical Institute, two local centers of higher education that were severely damaged in June, 2004,  when insurgents commandeered nearby buildings during a fight with coalition forces.


Sgt. Skelly identified supplies and equipment needed to restore the universities to working order, including computers, textbooks, desks, and other materials and helped plan the reconstruction of the schools.  Undergraduate Student Fellows of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and Spirit of America, a charitable organization that facilitates contributions for public service projects in Iraq, raised the required funds to purchase and distribute these goods to the universities. Today, both universities are operational and preparing young Iraqis to be leaders in their new nation.


The Bronze Star was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944 and is awarded for meritorious or heroic achievement.  Notable recipients of the bronze star include former Senator Bob Dole, Senator John McCain, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and former Homeland Security Advisor Tom Ridge.


In 2003-04, Dr. Skelly served as an FDD Academic Fellow and participated in an intensive anti-terrorism program for a select group of professors from across the United States. FDD is a non-profit, non-partisan policy institute in Washington, D.C., that is focused on winning the war on terrorism and promoting democracy.  For more information, please visit www.defenddemocracy.org.