Gen. Paul Xavier Kelley (ret.), former commandant, will receive the U.S. Navy Memorial's Lone Sailor Award on Sept. 18. (USMC History Division)
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The 28th commandant of the Marine Corps will be honored next month with a prestigious award for his post-military achievements.
Retired Gen. Paul X. Kelley will receive the U.S. Navy Memorial’s Lone Sailor Award at a black tie gala in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18. The award honors veterans of the sea services, including the Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps, who have distinguished themselves in civilian service.
Kelley, 84, served in the Marines from 1950-1987, seeing two combat tours in Vietnam. He was the youngest Marine officer ever to pin on the brigadier general’s star at the age of 46 in 1974. His combat awards include two Bronze Stars and the Silver Star, and he also boasts the Marine Corps Parachutist and Army Master Parachutist badges.
In his four-year term as commandant from 1983-1987, he assisted in leading the response to the October 1983 terrorist bombings in Beirut, Lebanon, that killed 220 peacekeeping Marines, and helped to lay the acquisition groundwork for development of the V-22 Osprey, the Marines’ state-of-the-art tiltrotor aircraft.
Following his retirement, Kelley served as chairman of the American Battle Monument Commission under three presidential administrations, guiding the construction and design of the Korean War Memorial, and advocating for and overseeing the construction of the World War II Memorial. In business, Kelley continues to serve with distinction on the board of advisers for equity investment firm J.F. Lehman and Company and as a director for Saul Centers, Inc. and the not-for-profit group the Non-Proliferation Trust.
Kelley has served on 10 New York Stock Exchange boards, as well as the boards of a dozen other private corporations, according to news releases.
“The Lone Sailor Award is given to Sea Service veterans selected for exemplifying the Navy’s core values in their military careers and subsequent careers and lives. General P.X. Kelley joins an impressive list of former presidents, entertainers, business professionals and high ranking servicemen,” U.S. Navy Memorial President and CEO John Totushek, a retired vice admiral, said in an emailed statement. “As the youngest Marine promoted to general in U.S. history, his experience has served him throughout his life and has extended far beyond his military career.”
Kelley will be honored alongside CNN media mogul Ted Turner, who served in the Coast Guard, and chairman and CEO of General Motors, Dan Akerson, a former Navy officer. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a former Republican senator from Texas, will also be honored for her work to improve the lives of military personnel.
Marine Corps Times was unable to reach Kelley directly for comment, but he released a statement in a news release saying he was honored to receive the Lone Sailor Award.
“One of the highest honors in my career as a Marine Corps officer was to serve with, and under, the finest sailors in the world. I am humbled to receive this award,” he said.
Past recipients of the Lone Sailor Award have included actor Jeff Bridges, comedian and activist Bill Cosby, and baseball legend Yogi Berra, to name a few.