Northwestern State University alumnus retired United States Army Lieutenant General Joseph M. Cosumano, Jr. has been named as the 44th recipient of the Omar N. Bradley Spirit of Independence Award. The honor will be presented at the annual Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl later this year in Shreveport.
“General Cosumano is one of the greatest patriots I have ever known,” said Radiance Technologies CEO Bill Bailey. “I watched Joe lead the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command to accomplish amazing technologies to protect the American citizens. He very much deserves this recognition. He is a Shreveport native that has served our country with honor and distinction.”
Cosumano served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 2004 and has been honored with a number decorations throughout his career. In his 35 years of service, he was honored with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Army Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Meritorious Service Medal with three Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal with three Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, and National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star. The Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster denotes receiving each respective award multiple times.
Cosumano was inducted into the NSU Alumni Hall of Distinction, the Long Purple Line in 2003. He was named Northwestern Demon Regiment Hall of Fame in 1993 in recognition of his military accomplishments and support of the regiment.
“I am honored to have served with and for the men and women of the greatest military on earth,” said Cosumano. “I accept this award on their behalf, as it represents all their sacrifices and those of their families to keep America and the world safe.”
Cosumano began his path to a military career at Northwestern State – where he earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees, while also being in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. He later received his commission in the U.S. Army as second lieutenant through the program, beginning his 35 years of military service.
During his career, Cosumano was involved in efforts to lead the U.S. military equipment and defenses into the 21st century. He was the chief of the Army’s Force Modernization program, where he was responsible for the requirements and funding of all Army equipment and equipping and designing all organizations of the Army. Along with that, he also was the Director of the Objective Force Task Force to develop requirements, technology and resources for the Army in the 21st century.
Cosumano was also the program manager of the National Missile Defense – initiating, funding and bringing under contract the most challenging Department of Defense program in record time. The program was designed to defend the U.S. against intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) attacks. It was fielded just seven years after its inception in 2004, which is 11 years quicker than average Department of Defense programs of this size are fielded.
His final assignment in the Army was as the commanding general of the Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) and the U.S. Army Space Command. In this role, he led the organization that was tasked to support war fighters. The organization was also responsible for developing the space and missile defense programs, with over 2,000 scientists and engineers in Huntsville, Alabama.
“General Cosumano is exactly the type of service-oriented, dedicated, independent-thinking patriot we wish to honor with the Spirit of Independence Award,” said 2020 Independence Bowl Foundation Chairman Frank Auer. “He is also one of ours. We are so fortunate to have a favorite son who has achieved so much and represented us and our nation so well. We are delighted to present this award in appreciation for General Cosumano’s lasting contributions to our country.”
Following military career, Cosumano was the senior vice president of strategy and business development for ATK Thiokol from 2004 to 2005. From 2005 to 2008, Cosumano served as the senior vice president of Kellogg Brown and Root. Following his time at KBR, Cosumano spent 2008 to 2011 as the president and CEO of Agility Defense and Government Services. Cosumano’s final role was as the President and CEO of the CFD Research Corporation in Huntsville, Ala. from 2013 to 2016.
Bradley was the first recipient of the “Spirit of Independence Award,” and presented it each year until his death, after which his name was added to the award. Since the award’s inception, this honor has been bestowed upon outstanding American citizens, or organizations, which symbolize the spirit of freedom and independence on which the United States of America was founded. Some past recipients include: John Wayne, Bob Hope, Ronald Reagan, and recently, the Tuskegee Airmen, the Berlin Airlift Veterans and veterans of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.