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Recipients of The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom

"Fidelissimus ad Mortem" "Faithful unto Death"

The American Hungarian Federation (AHF) established the Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom to honor outstanding individuals and recognize their life's achievements, dedication to freedom and democracy, promotion of transatlantic relations, and meritorious contribution to society. The award, AHF's highest honor, is open to Hungarians and non-Hungarians alike.The American Hungarian Federation (AHF) established the Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom to honor outstanding individuals and recognize their life's achievements, dedication to freedom and democracy, promotion of transatlantic relations, and meritorious contribution to society. The award, AHF's highest honor, is open to Hungarians and non-Hungarians alike.

Read more about Col. Commandant Michael Kovats, founding father of the US Calvary (Painting by Sandor Bodo of Nashville, TN)Inscribed on the medal is AHF's Motto, “Fidelissimus ad Mortem" or "Faithful Unto Death” (Híven Mindhalálig in Hungarian) representing Hungarian American historical committment to the United States. The motto was taken from a letter written by former Hussar Officer Michael Kováts to Benjamin Franklin. Kovats, known as the Founding Father of the US Cavalry, who offered his sword in service to the United States.

Col. Commandant Michael Kovats, founding father of the US Calvary by Gabriella Koszorus-VarsaOn May 11, 1779, Colonel Kovats gave his life in the American War forIndependence while leading the Continental Army cavalry he had trained in Hungarian hussar tactics against a British siege of Charleston. The British remarked that Kovats' forces were "the best cavalry the rebels ever had." He is immortalized in the almost lifesize portrait by Gabriella Koszorus-Varsa seen here. He is immortalized at the Citadel Miltary Academy in South Carolina as they honor him and named "Kovats Field" after him. The Hungarian Embassy, too, has a statue in his honor sculpted by Paul Takacs and executed by Attila Dienes. [Read more about Michael Kovats de Fabricy]

Colonel Michael Kovats Statue at the Hungarian Embassy in Washington, D.C. sculpted by Paul Takacs and executed by Attila DienesJust as Kovats’ life and service is celebrated annually by US Military Cadets at the Citadel, the motto reflects AHF virtues, and historically and inextricably ties Hungarians and Americans together while symbolizing Hungarians’ contributions and sacrifices to America’s beginning. Among the oldest ethnic organizations in the US, AHF was founded in 1906 in Cleveland, Ohio, and established as an association of Hungarian societies, institutions and churches to “defend the interest of Americans of Hungarian origin in the United States.”

Past Recipients:

Maj. General Robert Ivany, 2006 recipient of The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom from the American Hungarian FederationMaj. General Robert Ivany, Ph. D.
(Awarded at Houston, Texas commemoration events observing the 50th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution sponsored by the Hungarian American Cultural Association of Houston)

Dr. Iványi and his family left Hungary after WWII and emigrated to the United States. A distinguished graduate of West Point, Dr. Ivanyi would go on to serve 34 years and rise to the rank of Major General. As an Army Cavalry Officer, he would lead troops on Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam where he was wounded in action and decorated for valor. He presided over the prestigious US Army War College and was the first senior military officer invited to Hungary to contribute to democratization of their defense establishment. He has served in a number of unique positions from Army Aide to the President to Asst. Professor and football coach West Point.

A recipient of many awards and expert in leadership development, Dr. Ivanyi was named President of Houston’s University of St. Thomas. Read more about him on [Featured Members] and on the amazing [Nobel Prize Winners and Famous Hungarians]


Minister Tamas FellegiMinister Tamas Fellegi, Ph.D.
(Awarded at the 2014 Hungarian Ball in Washington, DC)

Tamás Fellegi was born in 1956, a few months before the historic uprising. He is a jurist, political scientist, businessman, professor, husband and father of two, and served as Hungary’s Minister of National Development. Between 1996 and 2000, he led the Legal and Governmental Affairs Division of Hungarian Telecom (MATÁV Rt.). He served as Hungary’s Chief Negotiator with the International Monetary Fund and the European Union on financial matters. From January to June 2011, he was the President of the European Union’s Energy Ministers’ Council, Climate Policy Ministers’ Council, and Development and Cohesion Funds Council.

He also served as Special Government Commissioner for Hungarian-Chinese, Hungarian-Russian, and Hungarian-Ukrainian economic relations. Currently, he is Managing Partner of EuroAtlantic Solutions, an international consultancy firm and the President/CEO of The Hungary Initiatives Foundation in Washington, DC. Dr. Fellegi is a Distinguished Fellow at the New Westminster College, Vancouver, Canada. The Hungary Initiatives Foundation is an independent, American non-partisan and non-profit organization committed to strengthening the understanding and cooperation between Hungary and the Unites States of America. The Foundation is the first of its kind in the long history of the Hungarian Diaspora and has helped countless cultural and educational programs in the United States. We are deeply grateful for its work.


The Honorable Mary Mochary, 2006 recipient of The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom from the American Hungarian FederationThe Honorable Mary Mocháry
(Awarded at the Cosmos Club, Washington, D.C., Gala Dinner commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution)

Mary Mochary graduated from Wellesley College in 1963 and the University of Chicago Law School in 1967. From 1971 to 1984, she practiced law in Montclair, New Jersey, in the firm of Mochary and Mochary, which later merged with the New York firm of Lane and Mittendorf. During this period, she was an active volunteer as president of the New Jersey Wellesley Club, on the board of the Whole Theater Company, and Foundation of the Archdiocese of Newark.

Ms. Mochary entered local politics in 1980 when she was elected mayor of Montclair. In 1984, she won the Republican primary in New Jersey and ran against incumbent Bill Bradley for the United States Senate. After losing her bid for the U.S. Senate, Ms. Mochary was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to be Deputy Legal Advisor at the U.S. Department of State. She remained at the State Department until 1993 as a foreign policy expert and negotiator on property issues. In 1993, Ms. Mochary returned to private life. She is currently involved with many not-for-profit organizations, including the Kennedy Center and the Washington National Opera.


The Honorable Aniko Gaal-Schott, 2006 recipient of The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom from the American Hungarian FederationThe Honorable Anikó Gaal-Schott
(Awarded at the Cosmos Club, Washington, D.C., Gala Dinner commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution)

Aniko escaped from Hungary as a child with her parents during the 1956 Hungarian uprising. Aniko grew up in Canada, where she received a degree in biochemistry and then went on to study dentistry at Montreal's McGill University. She lived and traveled abroad initially with the U.S. Foreign Service then later as Vice President of the famed Garfinckle's Stores of Washington D.C. Aniko is a professional artist with numerous exhibitions nationally and internationally. The recipient of numerous awards including:

  • the National Order of the Southern Cross from Brazil
  • the Knight's Cross of the Order of the Republic of Hungary for her significant contributions to promote hungary's name and for her work in 1994 in helping Hungary with refugees from Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia

Most recently, she was actively involved in promoting the inclusion of hungary into NATO. In 2003 president bush appointed her to serve on his "Cultural Property Advisory Committee," a post she holds to present.


The Honorable Peter S. Ujvagi, 2006 recipient of The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom from the American Hungarian FederationThe Honorable Péter S. Ujvági
(Awarded at the Cosmos Club, Washington, D.C., Gala Dinner commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution)

Fled Hungary on Christmas Eve 1956 at the age of 7. Arrived in the US in June 1957. Attended the University of Toledo and continues to live in an old Hungarian neighborhood of East Toledo. Elected as City Councilman for 20 years, President of City Council and currently only Hungarian in the Ohio State Legislature. Served in the President’s commission on neighborhoods. Co-founder National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Committee. Member of the official United State delegation to the funeral of Hungarian Prime Minister Antal Jozsef. A founder and former President of the Hungarian American Coalition.


Dr. Paul J. Szilagyi, 2006 recipient of The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom from the American Hungarian FederationDr. Paul Julius Szilágyi
(Awarded at the Cosmos Club, Washington, D.C., Gala Dinner commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution)

Fought in the Ulloi/Prater Ut area as a “Pesti Srac” (Boys from Pest) during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, Despite high qualifying marks, he was refused entry to university as an “enemy of the state” for nothing more than his family name. He would hone is chemistry skills at Chinoin, but fled Hungary on November 22, 1956. Received scholarship through the International Rescue Committee to Colorado College. Went to Case-Western Reserve in Cleveland to become the only Hungarian-American to receive his Ph.D. from Hungarian Nobel Prize winner George Olah. A holder of patents for biomedical devices and an expert in the field of cyanoacrylates. Dr. Szilagyi was a professor at the University of Miami.


Dr. Imre “Jimmy” László Tóth, 2006 recipient of The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom from the American Hungarian FederationDr. Imre “Jimmy” László Tóth
(Awarded at the Cosmos Club, Washington, D.C., Gala Dinner commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution)

Dr. Emery Imre Toth is the last surviving Secretary of the Revolutionary Committee for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Imre Nagy Government.” Dr. Emery Imre Toth is a Motion Picture/Video Producer-Director with national and international reputation. Produced over 250 documentary and feature film projects. Received 38 National and International Awards for Excellence. Lifetime and Honorary Member of the CINE International Film Festival's Board of Directors. He was elected Co-President of the American Hungarian Federation in 2006. Read more about him on [featured members]


Dr. János Horváth, MP, 2006 recipient of The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom from the American Hungarian FederationDr. János Horváth
(Awarded in Washington, DC at the Hungarian Reformed Federation of America during his US tour promoting voting rights)

A distinguished emeritus professor of economics, has been a Member of the Hungarian Parliament since 1998, in the ranks of the FIDESZ-Hungarian Civic Party.

He first entered public life as a university student via the Hungarian Independence Movement against Hitler and the Nazis. In December 1944 he was arrested and cruelly interrogated by the Hungarian branch of the Nazis, the Arrow Cross, and was saved from execution by the advance of the Soviet army into Budapest. A few years later he was again imprisoned, this time by the Soviet imposed Communist dictatorship. Meanwhile he had been elected Member of the Hungarian Parliament in 1945, where he served until his arrest and imprisonment in 1947. He became a political leader in the 1956 Revolution against the Soviet occupation and communist dictatorship. After the Soviet military intervention he gained refuge with UN in New York and settled in his new home, the US. He earned a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University and became one of the leading experts of grants economics, an area of study of unilateral transfers in the economy with particular relevance for intergovernmental economics, intra-family resource allocation, and nonprofit service provision. He was active in public life during his 41 years in the USA, e.g. he was the Chairman of Economic Advisers of Indiana Governor Edgar Whitcomb in 1970s when he also served as the head of the Department of Economics at Butler University. In 1998 he repatriated to Hungary and was elected to the Parliament a second time, and in 2002 he was reelected. As a lawmaker his focus is political economy and world affairs. [read more] about him and the award event.


Professor Peter Hargitai, 2006 recipient of The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom from the American Hungarian FederationProfessor Péter Hargitai
(Awarded at the Cosmos Club, Washington, D.C., Gala Dinner commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution)

Prof. Hargitai wrote his first poem during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, when he was nine years old. His family fled after the Hungarian Revolution. He has published several books and award-winning translations from Hungarian literature for which he was awarded the Pro Cultura Hungarica medal from the Republic of Hungary. He has taught at several American universities including the University of Miami, the University of Massachusetts, and Florida International University where he is currently on the English faculty. His most recent work, "Daughter of the Revolution," a story of a brave freedom fighter - a 14 year-old girl – co-published by AHF to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the ill-fated Revolution. Read more about him on [featured members]


please contact us if you have a picture to shareMr. Sándor Taraszovics (Posthumous)
(Awarded at the Cosmos Club, Washington, D.C., Gala Dinner commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution)

Sándor Taraszovics and his technician colleague tapped into the communications between the Hungarian Communist Party and Moscow. He reported the intercepts to Budapest, which reached Imre Nagy, the Prime Minister. On November 4. when the shooting phase of the undeclared war was launched by the USSR against Hungary, Sandor and his companion destroyed important elements of the communication equipment, thereby disrupting this vital connection between Moscow and Budapest. Sandor was also elected to the Workers Council in Nyiregyhaza during the Revolution, and his brother was killed in the fighting. Sandor had to flee Hungary to save his life.

Sandor joined Gen. Bela Kiraly (fellow Kovats Award recipient) in New York and became one of the founding members of the Hungarian Freedom Fighter-National Guard Federation. Within this organization Sandor participated in the work with the UN. General Assembly's Committee of Five's investigation of the case of the Hungarian Revolution. For years Sandor worked hard in disseminating useful information about 1956, pointing out the lies the Soviet agents spread about 56'; he also helped Hungarian refugees to find their place in America.

Sandor participated in the founding of the "Atlantic Studies on Society in Change" an English language book series, distributed by Columbia University Press world wide. The series have been concentrating on the question of the Hungarian history and safeguards the good reputation of '56. Sandor contributed an essay on "American Peace Plans and Shaping of Hungary's Post World War I. Borders" to volume No. 15. Béla K. Király Peter Pastor and Ivan Sanders (editors) War and Society in East Central Europe vol. VI. Essays on World WarI: Total War and Peacemaking, A Case Study on Trianon. New York: 1982. pp. 227-254. He was a member and officer of the American Hungarian Federation and other similar organizations.


Congressman Tom Lantos, 2005 recipient of The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom from the American Hungarian FederationCongressman Tom Lantos
(Awarded at the Congressional Reception commemorating the 49th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution)

The Award Reads:
"The American Hungarian Federation recognizes Congressman Lantos for his Leadership in Support of Democracy, Human Rights and Minority Rights in Central and Eastern Europe.” (Awarded at the October 19, 2005 Congressional Reception honoring the 49th Anniversary of 1956)


Congressman Tom Tancredo, 2005 recipient of The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom from the American Hungarian FederationCongressman Tom Tancredo
(Awarded at the October 19, 2005 Congressional Reception honoring the 49th Anniversary of 1956)

The Award Reads:
"The American Hungarian Federation recognizes Congressman Tanredo for his Leadership in Support of Democracy, Human Rights and Minority Rights in Central and Eastern Europe.”


Professor Laszlo Gutay, 2005 recipient of The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom from the American Hungarian Federation Dr. László Gutay
Professor of Physics, Purdue University
Tasks Leader at European Nuclear Research Center, Geneva
(Awarded at the October 19, 2005 Congressional Reception honoring the 49th Anniversary of 1956)

Captured Freedom Fighter who escaped Hungary and continued his studies at Oxford and then Florida State. Fellow of the American Physical Society and recipient of the National Medals of Bravery in 1956 and Freedom from Hungary. Founding member of the 56-os Világszövetség. Married with 5 children!


Dr. István Stephen Szára, pioneering researcher, recipient of 2005 Col. Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of FreedomDr. István Stephen Szára
Chemist, Psychiatrist, Pharmacologist, Professor
(Awarded at the October 19, 2005 Congressional Reception honoring the 49th Anniversary of 1956)

Fled Hungary after the 1956 Revolution. A pioneering researcher in psychopharmacology and consciousness, Dr. Szára presented world’s first clinical report on DMT and first to show DMT as hallucinogenic in 1956: providing a basis for subsequent work on schizophrenia. Retired as Chief of the NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Biomedical Research Branch. [read his acceptance speech]


James McCargar, Member of “The Pond” and CIA, 2005 recipient of The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom from the American Hungarian FederationMr. James McCargar, US Foreign Service Officer
Member of “The Pond” and CIA
(Awarded at the October 19, 2005 Congressional Reception honoring the 49th Anniversary of 1956)

Posted as Second Secretary to the US Legation in Budapest in 1946, he ran escape routes to help key non-communist figures to flee the country, including Béla Király. Author of many works under the pseudonym ‘Christopher Felix’ such as, "A Short Course in the Secret War," providing a glimpse into his secret world. Jim died of cancer May 30, 2007 at the Washington Home hospice at the age of 86. AHF and those whom he helped, greatly mourn the loss of this great man.


General Bela Kiraly, Ph.D., Commander-in-Chief of the Budapest National Defense Force during the ill-fated 1956 Hungarian Revolution, 2005 recipient of The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom from the American Hungarian FederationGeneral Bela Kiraly, Ph.D., Commander-in-Chief of the Budapest National Defense Force during the ill-fated 1956 Hungarian Revolution. (Awarded in person in October, in Budapest, Hungary)

Bela Kiraly was born in Kaposvar, Hungary, on April 14, 1912. He became a soldier in 1930. After graduating from the Military Academy, he fought on the eastern front in 1942-44. Following the Second World War, he was division chief of the general staff, then commander of the infantry. From 1950 he was the founding commander of the legal predecessor of the current Zrínyi Miklós National Defence University. In 1951 he was arrested and sentenced to death. After spending four years on death row, his sentence was commuted to life in prison. He was released in 1956 and joined the government of Imre Nagy.

With the help of covert CIA operatives, such as fellow Col. Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom winner James McCargar, Kiraly was able to escape Hungary after the country couldn't withstand the overwhelming military machine of the enemy. He found new home in the United States where he worked as military historian and military scientist. He earned a Ph.D. at Columbia University. He is professor Emeritus at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. He is author of 20 books and several dozen scientific studies. Following the transition to democracy from 1990 he served as a general, from 1990 to 1994 he was a Member of Parliament. From 2004 he has been an associate member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. [Read more] about the award event.


Mr. István Stephen Sisa, 2005 recipient of The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom from the American Hungarian FederationMr. István Stephen Sisa
Author, Founder of “Free World Review”
(Awarded at the October 19, 2005 Congressional Reception honoring the 49th Anniversary of 1956 - accepting for his father, Capt. I. Sisa, USN, Ret.)

A true son of the Carpathian Basin. Founded the “Free World Review,” which between 1956-1961 featured such internationally known contributors as Abba Eban, Habib Borguiba, Archduke Otto von Habsburg, Liddel Hart, Prince Norodom Sihanouk and David McCord Wright to name a few. Author of many works, such as the “Spirit of Hungary” seen here.

[back to all AHF news]

[Learn more about Col. Kovats de Fabricy]

AHF's Michael Kovats Medal of FreedomAHF's Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom

The Colonel Commandant Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom

Michael Kovats' Leter to Benjamin Franklin and US Congress, January 13th, 1777:

"Most Illustrious Sir:

Golden freedom cannot be purchased with yellow gold.
I, who have the honor to present this letter to your Excellency, am also following the call of the Fathers of the Land, as the pioneers of freedom always did. I am a free man and a Hungarian.

As to my military status I was trained in the Royal Prussian Army and raised from the lowest rank to the dignity of a Captain of the Hussars, not so much by luck and the mercy of chance than by most diligent self discipline and the virtue of my arms. The dangers and the bloodshed of a great many campaigns taught me how to mold a soldier, and, when made, how to arm him and let him defend the dearest of the lands with his best ability under any conditions and developments of the war.

I now am here of my own free will, having taken all the horrible hardships and bothers of this journey, and l am willing to sacrifice myself wholly and faithfully as it is expected of an honest soldier facing the hazards and great dangers of the war, to the detriment of Joseph and as well for the freedom of your great Congress. Through the cooperation and loyal assistance of Mr. Faedevill, a merchant of this city and a kind sympathizer of the Colonies and their just cause, I have obtained passage on a ship called "Catharina Froam Darmouth, " whose master is a Captain Whippy. I beg your Excellency, to grant me a passport and a letter of recommendation to the most benevolent Congress. I am expecting companions who have not yet reached here. Your Excellency would be promoting the common cause by giving Mr. Faedevill authorization to expedite their passage to the Colonies once they have arrived here.

At last, awaiting your gracious answer, I have no wish greater than to leave forthwith, to be where I am needed most, to serve and die in everlasting obedience to Your Excellency and the Congress.

Most faithful unto death (Fidelissiums ad Mortem),

Bordeaux, January l3th, 1777

Michael Kovats de Fabricy
P.S.: As yet I am unable to write, fluently in French or English and had only the choice of writing either in German or Latin; for this l apologize to your Excellency.

[Learn more about Col. Kovats de Fabricy]


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