Vavala receives state chamber of commerce’s highest honor – Delaware State Information

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Delaware State Chamber of Commerce President Michael J. Quaranta, left, presents the chamber’s Josiah Marvel Cup Award to retired Maj. Gen. Francis D. Vavala on Monday. (Submitted photo)

WILMINGTON — The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce awarded its prestigious Josiah Marvel Cup Award to retired Maj. Gen. Francis D. Vavala on Monday. Mr. Vavala, the former head of the Delaware National Guard, was honored at the chamber’s 184th annual dinner, which was held virtually due to the pandemic.

The state chamber coordinated with the Delaware National Guard to bring Mr. Vavala to the Joint Force Headquarters prior to the virtual event. It was there that Maj. Gen. Michael R. Berry and State Chamber President Michael J. Quaranta revealed he was this year’s honoree.

The gathering was captured on film and shared with more than 800 business leaders, elected officials and state dignitaries.

“General Vavala embodies what it means to serve the state and nation. For more than 50 years, both in uniform and out, he has made a tremendous impact on our National Guard and the State of Delaware,” Maj. Gen. Berry, the adjutant general of the Delaware National Guard, said in a statement. “He normally is the one giving out the recognition and awards, so it’s only right he gets some recognition.”

A native Delawarean, Mr. Vavala enlisted in the Delaware Army National Guard as a private in 1967. He was commissioned as a signal officer after completing the Delaware Military Academy Officer Candidate School in 1970.

In 1999, he was named adjutant general, a position he held for 18 years under three different governors. During his tenure, the state built a new National Guard headquarters in New Castle after years of lobbying by Maj. Gen. Vavala. The facility is now home to approximately 400 soldiers, airmen and sailors.

He also was the first Delaware National Guardsman to achieve four-star rank.

President-elect Joe Biden and incoming first lady Jill Biden, who were honored with the Marvel Cup at the chamber’s 181st annual dinner in 2018, sent words of congratulations, as well.

“We know how meaningful this award is,” the president-elect said in a statement. “It comes from the community. It is about service to the people. There is no one more deserving than General Vavala. He’s not only been an incredible leader to the Delaware National Guard, he’s been a genuine friend to so many.”

Established in 1951, the Marvel Cup honors a Delawarean who has made an outstanding contribution to the state or their community. The state chamber’s highest honor, it is named in memory of Josiah Marvel, who reorganized and served as the first president of the group in 1913. Per tradition, recipients of the Marvel Cup are kept secret until the night of the dinner.

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