General Paul X. Kelley - Retired
28th Commandant of the Marine Corps
General Kelley was born on November 11, 1928, in Boston, Mass. He graduated from Villanova University with a B.S. degree in Economics and was commissioned a Marine second lieutenant in June 1950.
In March 1951, after completing instruction at the Basic School, Quantico, Va., he served consecutively as a platoon leader, assistant battalion operations officer and assistant division training officer with the 2d Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C. He was transferred to the USS SALEM, Flagship of the 6th Fleet, during September 1952, serving as the Executive Officer and then the Commanding Officer of the Marine Detachment for a period of 20 months. He was promoted to captain on Dec. 16, 1953.
Returning to the U.S. in July 1956, General Kelley became the Special Assistant to the Director of Personnel at Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., until December 1957. Following his assignment in Washington, he completed the Airborne Pathfinder School at Ft. Benning, Ga. In February 1958, he was assigned to the newly activated 2d Force Reconnaissance Company, Force Troops, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic, Camp Lejeune, when he served as the Executive Officer and then Commanding Officer.
From September 1960 to May 1961, he was the U.S. Marine Corps Exchange Officer with the British Royal Marines. During this tour he attended the Commando Course in England, served as Assistant Operations Officer with 45 Commando in Aden, and as Commander "C" Troop, 42 Commando in Singapore, Malaya and Borneo. On March 1, 1961, he was promoted to major.
He was assigned to Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, in July 1961, and served there as a tactics phase chief at The Basic School; and then Reconnaissance and Surveillance Officer at the Marine Corps Landing Force Development Center.
In June 1964, he assumed duties as Commanding Officer, Marine Barracks, Newport, R.I. He remained at that post until August 1965, when he was transferred to Vietnam and reported to the 3d Marine Amphibious Force, FMF, Pacific, as the Combat Intelligence Officer. Following this assignment, he served as the Commanding Officer, 2d Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment in Vietnam. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on January 20, 1966. During this tour as battalion commander, he earned the Silver Star Medal, the Legion of Merit with Combat "V" and two awards of the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V".
From Vietnam, he proceeded to the U. S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, where he served from August 1966 to July 1968, as the Senior Marine Corps Representative of the Commandant of the Marine Corps. He then attended the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., graduating as a "Distinguished Graduate" in May 1969. For his excellence in politico-military strategy while a student at the Air War College, the Board of Trustees of the National Geographic Society elected him a life member.
He returned to Headquarters Marine Corps in June 1969, as the Military Assistant to the Assistant Commandant. He was promoted to colonel on April 1, 1970, and in June 1970 was reassigned to Vietnam where he commanded the 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, General Kelley redeployed the regiment, the last Marine ground combat unit to leave Vietnam, to Camp Pendleton, Calif., in May 1971. During his second tour in Vietnam, he was awarded a second Legion of Merit with Combat "V".
Reassigned to the Washington area in July 1971, General Kelley served as the Chief, Southeast Asia Branch, Plans and Policy Directorate, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he remained until November 1973, when he was assigned as the Executive Assistant to the Director, Joint Staff. Upon completion of this tour he was awarded a third Legion of Merit.
Following his promotion to brigadier general on August 6, 1974, he was assigned as the Commanding General, 4th Marine Division.
In June 1975, General Kelley was ordered to the Marine Corps Development and Education Command, at Quantico, where he assumed the duties as Director, Development Center. He then assumed duties as Director, Education Center and was advanced to the grade of major general on June 29, 1976.
In May 1978, General Kelley was ordered to Headquarters Marine Corps, where he became Deputy of Chief of Staff for Requirements and Programs.
On February 4, 1980, General Kelley was promoted to lieutenant general and appointed by the President as the first Commander of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, (remained the United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) in January 1983), a four service force with headquarters at MacDill AFB, Tampa, Florida.
General Kelley was promoted to the rank of general and assumed duties as Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps and Chief of Staff on July 1, 1981. He assumed his present office as Commandant of the Marine Corps on July 1, 1983.
General Kelley's personal decorations and awards include: the Distinguished Service Medal; the Silver Star Medal; Legion of Merit with Combat "V" and two gold stars in lieu of second and third awards; the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V" and a gold star in lieu of a second award; the Joint Service Commendation Medal; Navy Commendation Medal; and the Army Commendation Medal. He is a Marine Corps Parachutist and U.S. Army Master Parachutist.
General Kelley has been awarded honorary doctoral degrees from Villanova University, Norwich University, Webster University, Jacksonville University, and the United States Sports Academy.