Vice-Admiral Michael Kalleres (Official Navy Photo)
Vice Admiral Michael Kalleres has been awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. The first Navy flag officer to receive the prestigious award, Mr. Kalleres lives in in Jacksonville, Fl. He was selected by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO), the largest representative of ethnic and heritage organizations in the U.S.

Mr. Kalleres was among eight sons raised by his widowed mother, his aunt, and his grandmother following the death of his father. His mother, Tula, worked for 59 yeras as the senior account executive for five radio stations in northern Indiana. Mr. Kalleres is an archon, a member of the Naval Order, and a member of the Purdue Univ. ROTC Hall of Fame.

The award was presented at a May 12 gala event which took place on Ellis Island. A spectacular fireworks display, with the Statue of Liberty as backdrop, followed the gala.

Describing himself as "emotionally overwhelmed" on receiving news of the award, Mr. Kalleres credited his family background with instilling in him a "drive for excellence and ethical standards." In a letter to his family, Mr. Kalleres thanked "all...who came here before us and made this possible."

The award was established through a Congressional mandate in 1986. It honors Americans who exemplify outstanding qualities in their personal and professional lives, while continuing to preserve the richness of their heritage. Joe Dimaggio, Muhammed Ali, Dr. Jonas Salk, Gen. Colin Powell, former President George Bush, and noted Greek-American actress Olympia Dukakis are among the past recipients of the award.

For more information about the Ellis Island Medal of Honor Awards, visit