Bonner Recognized as Patriot of the Year
Posted on November 10, 2023
The Mobile Bay Area Veterans Day Commission has named University of South Alabama President Jo Bonner Patriot of the Year for 2023.
Bonner was recognized Friday at an Honors Luncheon, where he delivered a keynote address. Also recognized was Veteran of Year, David Riley, a University alumnus. Riley received his undergraduate degree in computer science and a master’s degree in information systems.
Riley is an Army and Coast Guard veteran. In the Army, he served as a radar repair technician with tours of duty including Korea. He joined the Coast Guard in 1983 and served as a helicopter rescue swimmer. During that time, he contracted septic shock pneumococcus sepsis and was hospitalized for three months; he lost all four limbs and some internal organs due to the infection.
Riley is a former national commander of the group Disabled American Veterans.
Two University of South Alabama ROTC students, Lauren McGrady (Air Force) and Jenna Lankford (Army), were recognized as Cadets of the Year.
In a news release recognizing Bonner as Patriot of the Year, Mobile Bay Area Veterans Day Commission stated, in part:
“President Bonner was selected because of his more than 40 years of selfless, patriotic service to the United States of America and to the state of Alabama. During this time, he continually supported our military services and our veterans. During his 12 years in Congress, as the representative of Alabama District 1, his record is filled with his support of bills that benefited our military veterans.
“President Bonner was also a staunch supporter of Honor Flight South Alabama, the project that, between 2008 and 2013, took almost 1,000 World War II veterans from the South Alabama area to Washington, D.C., to visit their World War II Memorial. Jo Bonner met every group of veterans at the memorial, spoke to them, and took photos with them. His very presence there showed those national treasures just how important they were and are to our nation.”
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