Paul X. Kelley

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General Paul X. Kelley (1928-) was the 28th Commandant of the Marine Corps, 1983-1987. Previously, he had been promoted to general and became the Assistant Commandant in 1981. [1]

In retirement, he is an adviser to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is a Director of Saul Centers, Inc., OAO Technology Solutions, Inc. and London Life Reinsurance Company.

During his tenure, the 1983 barracks bombing in Beirut took place, as well as Operation URGENT FURY in Grenada.

Senior assignments

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, (predecessor of the United States Central Command (USCENTCOM))/

He became Deputy of Chief of Staff for Requirements and Programs, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps, in 1978.

Promoted to brigadier general in August 1974, he took command of the 4th Marine Division, in what is normally a major general's slot. From there, he went to the Marine Corps Development and Education Command, and was promoted there to major general.

Vietnam era

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, the Legion of Merit with Combat "V" and two awards of the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V".

He returned to Headquarters Marine Corps in June 1969, as the Military Assistant to the Assistant Commandant. As a colonel, he took command, in June 1970, of the 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, in Vietnam. 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".

Education and early career

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 2nd Marine Division He was transferred to the USS Salem (CA-138)), Flagship of the United States Sixth Fleet, during September 1952, serving as the Executive Officer and then the Commanding Officer of the Marine Detachment aboard.

In July 1956, General Kelley became the Special Assistant to the Director of Personnel at Headquarters Marine Corps. Next, he complete the Army Airborne Pathfinder School,, and was assigned to the 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company. He completed an exchange assignment and commando training with the British Royal Marines.


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.


  1. General (retired) Paul X. Kelley, 28th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps