[Outgoing Director; DISA/Manager, National Communications System] General [David J.] Kelley; Mrs. Kitty Kelley, his mother; Keri Kelley, his niece; his dear family friends, Mrs. Nancy Mallette and her family; Assistant Secretary [of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence, Arthur] Money; [Vice Chief of Staff of the Army] General [John] and Terry Keane; [Incoming Director; DISA/Manager, National Communications System] General [Harry] and Julee Raduege and the Raduege family; distinguished guests, including the West Point class of 1966; if they are sitting, if they would stand, if they are standing, if they would raise their hands for just one second. [Applause.]
The young soldiers who are standing in formation here have just seen a special thing with this class of 1966. America in this second half of the Twentieth Century found itself shaped in so many different ways, and at the heart of those activities was this famous class of 1966.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me begin by saying that those who know General Kelley know he’d prefer that today’s speakers subscribe to the old Army Ranger maxim, "Be sincere, be brief, and be gone." [Laughter.] Now that General Keane has given us this fine cover here on the field, it will allow us to engage in more extended remarks. [Laughter.] I’m sure all of the succeeding speakers in subsequent events on this parade field will come to welcome that canopy. General Keane is just demonstrating his foresight, as he has in so many other ways. But when it comes to a sincere tribute to General Kelley’s lifetime of service, I’m afraid we could never be brief enough to suit Dave Kelley. So, forgive us, general, as we take a few moments to celebrate your truly outstanding contributions to our nation.
In the spring of 1962, Douglas MacArthur intoned before an audience of West Point cadets these immortal words, "Duty, honor, country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be."
Those words echoed with special meaning to the next class of cadets to join the Long Gray Line just weeks later, among them a bright, energetic son of the South, from Lafayette, Louisiana. More than three decades later, we pay tribute to General David Kelley and to the remarkable career he built on these very principles.
His has been a life of duty. Like many in the class of 1966, the Long Gray Line took Dave Kelley, as General Keane noted, to Vietnam, where he would earn the Bronze Star. Thirty of his classmates gave their lives there, the highest toll of any West Point class in that war, most of whom now lie in the national cemetery at West Point, in two rows, side by side.
In the decades since, whether as a commander on the front lines of the Cold War in Germany, or leading the Army Signal headquarters in Georgia, or as a champion here in the halls of Washington for the communication needs of every warfighter, Dave Kelley has ensured all America’s sons and daughters would have the tools for future victories, that our superior warriors would have superior weapons.
I returned this week from my fourth trip to Kosovo, where I met with our young superior warriors. I can tell you their morale is high, and they’re performing a difficult mission in superior fashion. Their success and spirit is due, in no small measure, to leaders like General Kelley who have ensured they have the tools and the technologies they need to get the job done.
General Kelley’s life has been one of honor. He chose the Signal Corps, a fitting place for one who embraces technology’s sword. And the Army chose him, as much for his character as for his capabilities. Indeed, the man we celebrate today built a rock-solid reputation as a leader of unwavering integrity and loyalty; loyalty that extends even to his favorite football team, his beloved, but battered, New Orleans Saints. [Laughter.]
Now, following logic understandable perhaps only to the Irish, Dave has said that the Saints’ unbroken string of bad luck may somehow be related to his undying support. [Laughter.] Sounds like he’s from New England and used to root for the Red Sox. [Laughter.] So rumor has it, he’s considering shifting his allegiance to the Redskins—and that’s easy to do in today’s environment—if for no other reason than to better the fortunes of the Saints.
Finally, Dave Kelley’s life has been one devoted to country. Through some of the most difficult years for our men and women in uniform—through Vietnam, through the decade that followed—Dave Kelley chose to stay with the Army. He believed that no matter the popular view, America would always need strong leaders to build a strong defense. And that’s exactly the philosophy he brought to Washington.
For the last seven years, first on the Joint Staff and then more recently at DISA, General Kelley put his energy, optimism, and insight into anticipating what America’s warfighters would need in the next fight. He led the charge to make sure our forces had the most advanced information they needed to fight and prevail, not only in places like Kosovo, but wherever the fight might come.
We retrieved a copy of General Kelley’s yearbook, and beside his youthful picture is this quote, "The vintage of wisdom is to know that rest is rust and that real life is in love, laughter and work." There could be no more prescient summation of the life and ethic of the man we honor today, an ethic shaped in so many ways by his mother, Kitty. If she would just stand for one second, please. [Applause.] As the general would be the first to admit, she has helped shape this most technically astute soldier by her own love of learning, which she continues to pursue at her local college today, and by her independent spirit and great pride in her son. So, Mrs. Kelley, thank you very much. Thank you for your support to your son in his most remarkable career.
Thirty years ago, another young officer also began a remarkable career of service in command, control, communications and computers, in the United States Air Force. Today, we welcome Lieutenant General Harry Raduege as DISA’s new director, and we also note the service of his son, Air Force Captain Chad Raduege.
Harry, in almost two years at NORAD, you have fused our space forces with our forces on earth, as we witnessed so remarkably in Kosovo. In the coming years, we’ll look to you to ensure that all our forces can communicate and survive in the missions of the future. So we congratulate you and Julee and welcome you both. And, if you and Julee would just briefly stand. [Applause.]
In closing, let me say that the man we honor ends a career he began on June 8, 1966, exactly 34 years ago today. In characteristic fashion, this soldier’s story comes full circle, a living testament to MacArthur’s words that "the Long Gray Line has never failed us."
Indeed, it was Dave Kelley’s faith in this nation, his faith in the Army, and his faith in the warfighter that has truly defined and distinguished his entire career. General Kelley, while we can never fully express our gratitude, we can thank you for your life of duty. We thank you for your honor. And we thank you for many decades of proud service to this great country. Thank you very much. [Applause.]