Lt. Gen. (Ret.) John B. Conaway ’56 Receives UE Presidential Medal of Honor

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ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA (04/26/2024) The Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, VA, was the setting for the presentation of the University of Evansville’s Presidential Medal of Honor to 4-star Lt. Gen. (Ret.) John Conaway ’56. At a ceremony held on April 24, UE President Christopher Pietruszkiewicz bestowed the institution’s highest honor upon the esteemed military leader and notable alumnus.

The event, attended by alumni and friends of UE, was a special program to celebrate the remarkable achievements Lt. Gen. John Conaway ’56, the 2024 recipient of the UE Presidential Medal of Honor. It provided a unique opportunity for members of the UE community to come together and honor Gen. Conaway while engaging in meaningful conversations and reconnecting with their alma mater.

Lt. Gen. Conaway is renowned for his distinguished military career, which spanned from 1956 to 1993. Beginning with his commission as a second lieutenant in the US Air Force after graduating from UE, Conaway’s journey led him to serve as the 22nd Chief of the National Guard Bureau, as well as Vice Chief and Director of the Air National Guard.

However, Conaway’s impact extends far beyond his military service. In the early 1990s, he initiated the Youth ChalleNGe Program, a second chance program for high school dropouts, during his tenure at the National Guard Bureau. Starting as a pilot program in 1993, the Youth ChalleNGe Program has since expanded to 34 programs nationwide, helping nearly 115,000 troubled teens find their way back to graduation.

For over two decades, Conaway has worked tirelessly with state officials to expand the program’s reach and effectiveness, earning him recognition as a leading visionary in youth development. Additionally, he played a pivotal role in forming the National Guard Youth Foundation to raise scholarship funds for ChalleNGe graduates.

Reflecting on his time at UE, Conaway’s legacy is deeply intertwined with the university. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1956 and was later honored with an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1986. Throughout the years, Conaway has remained actively engaged with UE, serving as an At-Large Trustee from 1989 to 2007 and as a Life Trustee since 2007. He has also been recognized with the Distinguished Alumnus Award and is a member of the John Collins Moore Society.