General Jack Keane was presented our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in a ceremony held in the East Room of the White House. March 10th,2020.
Those in attendance included a lengthy list of high profile leaders including: Secretary Mike Pompeo, Secretary Mark Esper, Attorney General William Barr, Secretary Dan Brouillette, Senator Lindsey Graham, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, and General Keith Alexander.
The White House in a press release provided the following information (watch the entirety of the ceremony in the provided video).
Jack Keane was born in 1943 into a family with a strong tradition of military service. His father served during World War Two as a Marine in the Pacific theater.
Jack grew up in a housing project on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and became the first member of his family to attend college. At Fordham University, he joined the ROTC, distinguishing himself as a cadet and a member of the famed Pershing Rifles.
Upon graduating, Jack was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He volunteered to serve in Vietnam and joined the legendary 101st Airborne Division. As a platoon leader and later company commander, Jack fought through fierce and bloody combat. He demonstrated unflinching courage under fire. And for his exceptional valor, Jack was awarded the Silver Star.
After Vietnam, Jack and his late wife Terry adopted two wonderful sons. They raised Daniel and their late son Matthew with extraordinary love and care.
In the Army, Jack designed new training methods to ensure that military leaders would always be extremely well prepared for the intensity of combat command. His rigor, discipline, creativity, toughness — they all achieved tremendous results. General William DePew, who helped rebuild the American military after Vietnam, wrote that Jack was the best brigade commander that he’s ever had. He was very exceptional at all levels.
In 1991, Jack became a brigadier general and commander of the Joint Readiness Training Center. He devised a state-of-the-art program that prepared our nation’s service members for combat against extended insurgencies in both urban environment and rugged terrain. Jack prepared this nation for the wars to come and helped train soldiers that would later serve in Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, and Kosovo.
Jack was named a Vice Chief of Staff of the Army in 1999. Was in his office on September 11, 2001, when terrorists struck the Pentagon. He ran through smoke and debris, and evacuated the injured, saving lives. He visited the wounded in hospitals and attended scores of funerals for the fallen patriots slain in the attack.
Jack soon helped oversee the additional military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was the first senior military official to visit troops in the field. In 2003, he was offered the position of Army Chief of Staff, but in a profound act of devotion, he turned down the position and left the Army, after nearly 38 years, to care for his wife Terry, who had developed Parkinson’s disease.
In 2006, Jack helped engineer “the Surge” that stabilized the deteriorating situation in Iraq and allowed Iraqis to finally take charge of their own future.
In the years since, Jack has continued to offer his sage counsel to military and policy leaders, and to visit our troops on the frontiers.
He’s been called a “national treasure” by Henry Kissinger and is a recipient of the Bradley Prize and the Ronald Reagan Peace Through Strength Award.
Jack Keane is a visionary, a brilliant strategist, and an American hero. General, you will be remembered as one of the finest and most dedicated soldiers in a long and storied history of the United States military. No question about it.