WASHINGTON — To recognize his continuous support and recognition of Sailors, Marines and their families throughout his 17 years on television, the Navy presented its Superior Public Service Award to Montel Williams in New York during the taping of his long-running program’s final show, March 19.
Navy Capt. Kenneth J. Braithwaite II, a rear admiral selectee and director of Joint Public Affairs Support Element Reserve, presented the award to Williams on behalf of Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead. The Superior Public Service Award is the second-highest award presented to civilians by the Department of the Navy.
“Thank you, thank you,” said Williams after he was surprised with the award presentation once the show began rolling. “I’ve tried in the industry to recognize (military service members) and really bring to the forefront what is being sacrificed. I want to thank you, all of you, for what you do.” Williams continued to wear the award throughout the finale show.
A video message from Roughead, thanking Williams for his dedication and support to all Sailors and Marines, will air in a special segment during the final week of “The Montel Williams Show” before it goes off the air in May.
“It was an honor to be able to award a true patriot like Mr. Williams,” Braithwaite said. “This award signifies his genuine gratitude for military service. He has a definite understanding and appreciation of what Sailors and Marines sacrifice, something he knows well from his own military experience.”
Williams enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1974, and in 1975 he was selected as the first black Marine to attend the U.S. Naval Academy Preparatory School. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1980 and was commissioned as an intelligence officer, specializing in cryptology.
During annual holiday shows in his television program’s long run, Williams has reunited deployed Sailors with their families. In 2006, he and a production crew flew to the Navy Central Command/5th Fleet area of responsibility to tour Iraqi oil platforms and meet with deployed Sailors aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).
His program frequently has featured guests from nonprofit organizations that support service members to highlight their efforts. Throughout his 17 years on televisions, Williams continuously shared with audience members and viewers the importance of supporting the military and recognized Sailors’ personal sacrifices in service to their country.
Williams’ mother and relatives were in the audience for the series finale. To his staff, some of whom had been with the show since the first day, Williams declared that it would be a fun show celebrating their 17 years on television.
“It is very bittersweet today. Everybody has worked so hard,” said Kwame White, production assistant. “He is a great man. Every day, while at work, I meet someone amazing here who has overcome something, and it has given me such an appreciation for what I have.”
Navy Band Northeast, stationed in Newport, R.I., opened the show by playing the program’s theme song.
Lt. Carl Gerhard, Navy Band Northeast director, said he was happy to be part of the event. “It feels great to be a part of this day,” said. “This is a very special day for Mr. Williams, and it is nice to be here to play not only to celebrate his long run on television, but to play a tribute to his service as well.”
The final episode of “The Montel Williams Show,” featuring the Superior Public Service Award presentation, is scheduled to air May 16.