2019 Russell H. Perry Award Dinner Honors Sam Johnson

Dr. Adam Wright and Dan Heefner present Sam Johnson with DBU Baseball jersey

Dallas Baptist University honored Sam Johnson as the recipient of the 2019 Russell H. Perry Free Enterprise Award during the annual award dinner that was held on Monday, November 25, at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas.

Established in 1988, the gala dinner continues to honor leaders whose lives are testimonies of achievements in free enterprise and service to the community. The event is named in memory of Dallas business leader and philanthropist Russell H. Perry, whose life of service impacted many. Over the past 32 years, the dinner has provided scholarship support for over 2,400 DBU students.

This year's dinner was chaired by Raymond Harris, founder of RHA Architects, and Dr. Ron Harris, Founder, and President of MEDIAlliance International served as the program's emcee throughout the evening.

Gary Singleton, Senior Pastor of The Heights Baptist Church, provided the evening's invocation, and Trevor Wade, DBU Student and ROTC Cadet, led in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Following a word of gratitude from Dr. Adam C. Wright, President of DBU, DBU Head Baseball Coach Dan Heefner gave the formal address to all those present. Afterward, Raymond Harris, founder of RHA Architects, presented the award to Congressman Johnson.

Oscar Epps, Senior Pastor of Community Missionary Baptist Church in DeSoto, Texas, provided the benediction for the evening.

Sam Johnson, the recipient of this year's award, served for 29 years in the U.S. Air Force and was the director of the Air Force Fighter Weapons School ("Top Gun"). He is a decorated war hero, a true patriot committed to freedom, and a beloved public servant who co-authored a revolutionary new air tactics manual still in use today.

Sam served in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, flying combat missions, and was shot down in Vietnam on a second tour in 1966. Sam endured almost seven years as a Prisoner of War, including 42 months in solitary confinement. He spent 72 days in leg stocks and two-and-a-half years in leg irons. In 1973, Sam returned home to Texas and was decorated with numerous military awards, including the Purple Heart. His many sufferings, including periods of starvation and torture, are retold in his autobiography, Captive Warriors.

Following his outstanding military career, Sam established a home-building business in North Dallas. He served in the Texas legislature and, in 1991, was elected into the United States House of Representatives. In 2011, he became Chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee and sat on the Health Subcommittee with an impressive record of landmark legislative accomplishments.

In 2009, the prestigious Congressional Medal of Honor Society honored Sam with the National Patriot Award for his distinguished service on behalf of the U.S. military, veterans, and in defense of freedom. In 2016, the Bipartisan Policy Center awarded him the first Congressional Patriot Award.

Sam Johnson was married to the late Shirley L. Melton of Dallas who passed away on December 3, 2015. They have three children, ten grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren - one of which, Sarah Briney, is a DBU graduate.

Written by Faith Myers

Faith Myers is a member of University Communications at Dallas Baptist University.