General Kelley served as the 28th Commandant of the Marine Corps and Member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1983 until his retirement in 1987. Subsequently, he served under three Presidents as Chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission. In this position he was responsible for the design and construction of the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the legislation, construction and dedication of the National World War II Memorial. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics from Villanova University, is a Distinguished Graduate of the Air War College, and has received honorary doctoral degrees from his Alma Mater, Norwich University, Webster University, Jacksonville University, The United States Sports Academy and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
During his 37-year military career he commanded Marine Corps organizations at every echelon from platoon through division, including command of an infantry battalion and infantry regiment during two separate combat tours in the Republic of Vietnam. He also has had the unique experience of duty with the Army, Navy, Air Force and Royal Marines, where he commanded a Commando Troop in Singapore, Borneo and Malaya. In December 1979, he was appointed by the President as the first Commander of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, and spearheaded the initiative which eventually culminated in its re-designation as the U.S. Central Command. General Kelley was selected twice for accelerated promotion, once to the rank of Colonel and again to the rank of Major General. He remains the youngest Marine to be promoted to the rank of General, and is a Marine Corps Parachutist, Army Master Parachutist and Navy SCUBA Diver.
General Kelley’s military decorations include Distinguished Service Medals from the Department of Defense, the Department of the Navy, the Department of the Army, and the Department of the Air Force; the Silver Star Medal; three awards of the Legion of Merit; and two awards of the Bronze Star Medal. His foreign decorations include the Republic of Vietnam Distinguished Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with two palms and three gold stars, the Philippines Legion of Honor Medal, the Korean Order of Security Merit Tong II Medal, and the Republic of China Order of Resplendent Banner with Grand Cordon.
His major awards include the American Academy of Achievement Golden Eagle Award, Veterans of Foreign Wars National Armed Forces Award, Reserve Officers Association Minuteman Hall of Fame, National Geographic Society General O.A. Anderson Award, Young Republicans Freedom Award, United States Marshal’s American Star Award, Beta Gamma Sigma Award for Excellence in Management, The Union League Silver Medal Award, National Defense University Lyman L. Lemnitzer Award, Navy League Admiral John M. Will Award for the Armed Forces, Washington Times Freedom Award, Atlantic Legal Foundation’s Honoree for 1999, and the Saint Thomas of Villanova Alumni Medal.
General Kelley is Chairman Emeritus of the Irish American Partnership, where he served as Chairman of the Board of Directors from 1989 to 2000. In recognition of his Irish heritage, he was named Southern California’s Irishman of the Year, 1986; one of America’s 100 leading Irish Americans, 1990; Chicago’s Guest of Honor for St. Patrick’s Day, 1990; Baltimore’s Irish American of the Year, 1992; Charleston, South Carolina’s Hibernian Society Keynote Speaker, 1994; and Trustee for New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day since 1999. On October 30, 2003, he was acclaimed by America’s Irish American Community for his success in gaining posthumous citizenship for 28 sons of Ireland who gave their lives in the services of the United States Armed Forces during the Korean War.
In the private sector, he has served on ten New York Stock Exchange boards, and twelve other private corporate boards. Currently, General Kelley is on the Board of Advisors for J.F. Lehman and Company, and serves as a Director with London Life Reinsurance Company; Saul Centers, Inc.; OAO Technology Solutions, Inc.; and The Non-Proliferation Trust. He is a member of The Advisory Board of Governors for the Partnership for Public Service, The advisory Board of The First Jobs Institute, Beta Gamma Sigma, The Alfalfa Club, and The Council on Foreign Relations.
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