Jimmy Buffett Awarded U.S. Naval Academy’s Highest Civilian Honor

Jimmy Buffett and The Coral Reefer Band
Jimmy Buffett and The Coral Reefer Band, Photo: Chief Mass Communication Specialist Michael W. Pendergrass

Hamptonite Jimmy Buffett’s adoring fans, known as parrotheads, all show their undying love for him in different ways: some hold up colorful signs at his concerts, others get his song lyrics tattooed on their bodies and a select few present him with grand awards. The parrotheads at the United States Naval Academy did just that on March 28.

At the Academy’s annual Spring Brigade Concert on Wednesday, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer and superintendent of the Naval Academy Vice Admiral Ted Carter presented Buffett with the Department of the Navy Superior Public Service Award, the highest honor that can be given to a civilian. The official citation on the certificate describes Buffett as an “unwavering supporter of the men, women, and families of the Navy and Marine Corps,” whose efforts, including concerts and personal appearances, “directly contributed to the personal resiliency and enthusiasm of forces serving around the globe.”

In a video of the event posted to Buffett’s Facebook page, Spencer described him as “a member of the Navy family going back to 1980 when he played here at the Academy when your superintendent [Carter] was dating his wife.” He then admitted to the roaring audience that, “his songs and albums carried me through my time in college and the Marine Corps.” As Buffett was called onstage, Spencer ditched his suit and tie in favor of a blue Hawaiian shirt with the word “NAVY” across the back and a red parrothead hat.

After the award ceremony concluded, Buffett and the Coral Reefers gave an incredible show performing a collection of his greatest hits, including songs recently featured in his Broadway hit Escape to Margaritaville, “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and “We Are the People Our Parents Warned Us About,” which turned into an acoustic sing-along when the stage temporarily lost power. He also performed a cover of Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly.”

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