John W. Kiely
Major General, United States Army
The General enlisted in the Army at 17, was sent to Officer's Candidate School at 18 and at 19 he was a Platoon Leader and a Rifle Company Commander with the 289th Infantry Regiment, 75th Division. In the battle for Europe he was decorated for valor and toward the end of the War was wounded and hospitalized outside Paris. There, with several companions, all on crutches and in a 'borrowed' jeep, they made their way to the Champs Elysees for the euphoric 'Lighting of Paris', the night the war ended. Late the next day they returned the 'borrowed' jeep returned to their hospital cots and slept for 24 hours.
He left active duty in 1946 but remained in the Army Reserves until he graduated from Providence College in 1950. On the advent of the Korean War he was commissioned in the Regular Army.
His subsequent overseas service included that of Company Commander, Company I, 351st Regiment, British-United States Troops Allied Government (BRUSTAG) in Trieste F.T.T., and the Adjutant of the 6th Regiment, Berlin Command. He was assigned to the Korean Military Advisory Group (KMAG) as an Operations Advisor to the Second Republic of Korea Army (SROKA) in Taegue, Korea and as Operations Officer for the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Alternate Command Element (JACE), out of the Pentagon, Washington, DC and as Chief, Surface Operations Division, Military Command, Vietnam (MACV) with Staff responsibility for conduct of all Military and Naval Operations exclusive of Tactical and Strategic Air.
After Vietnam he commanded the 5th Combat Support Brigade, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Following this he was assigned as Chief, Operating Forces Division, Office of the Army Budget. He further served as the Assitant Director of the Army Budget, Office of the Comptroller of the Army and subsequently as Army Comptroller of the National Guard Bureau, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
On 7 February 1977 the General was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Brigadier General, National Guard, and on 1 March 1977 he retired as Colonel, Regular Army, to accept Governor Garrahy's Appointment as Brigadier General, National Guard of Rhode Island with assignment as Assistant Adjutant General. In 1983 he was appointed by Governor Garrahy to be the Adjutant General of Rhode Island and promoted to the grade of Major General and Commanding General of the Rhode Island Army and Air National Guard.
He retired in the spring of 1990, at age 65, after a total of 48 years of service to State and Nation. In June of that year, with the advent of the first gulf war (Desert Shield/Desert Storm), the General was heard to remark 'After all these years how dare they have a war without me.' His son, Kevin, participated in that campaign as a Major in the Air Force.
Despite his participation in foreign riots, wars or insurrections he always considered his four years of service with the Army Rangers and his position as Commander 1st Ranger (Tng) Battalion (Jungle and Amphibious Warfare), Field 7, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, as the most memorable period of his career.
During his service General Kiely received a Purple Heart, two Bronze Stars (Valor), and three Legions of Merit, along with twenty-two other Federal Government awards and decorations. He also received the Rhode Island Cross and the Rhode Island Star.
He received a Bachelor's Degree from Providence College in 1950, a Master's Degree from George Washington University in 1965 as well as completing the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia, the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, and the Army War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He was a member of the Army Navy Country Club, the Navy League, the National Guard Association of the United States, the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame, the Military Order of World Wars, the Kentish Guards and Varnum Continentals of East Greenwich, and the Newport Art Museum, Newport, Rhode Island, along with other military and civic organizations.
Besides his wife, he is survived by son and daughter-in-law, John W., Jr. and Sarah Kent Kiely of Fairfax Station, Virginia, son and daughter-in-law, Colonel (Dr.) Kevin D. and Kimberly Kiely of Offut Air Force Base, Nebraska, daughter and son-in-law Sara Jane and Kevin O'Hare of Gainsville, Virginia, and five grandchildren, J. Matthew and Daniel Magill Kiely; Emma Christine and Liam Kevin Kiely; and Thomas Francis O'Hare. He is survived by his brother, Daniel J. Kiely, Jr. of North Providence. He was the brother of the late Judge Francis M. Kiely and Maureen Kiely Armstrong.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial on Friday at 11 AM in Our Lady of Mercy Church, Fourth Ave., East Greenwich. Burial full with military honors will be in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia. Calling hours Thursday 4-8 PM in the Hill Funeral Home, 822 Main Street, East Greenwich. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Home & Hospice Care of Rhode Island, 143 Main St., Wakefield, Rhode Island 02879.