John F. Kelly is President Donald Trump's new White House chief of staff.
He is also a U.S. Marine general and no-nonsense badass who is known for snapping necks and cracking skulls.
His first scalp came almost instantly upon his swearing in with a very tactical professional assassination of Trump's controversial, loud-mouthed communications director, Anthony Scaramucci.
Kelly's cold, savage, instantaneous cleaning of the house should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Kelly's career and brand of leadership. Summed up, Kelly is a stickler for protocol and a “Beacon of Discipline.”
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In today's White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders made it very clear that Kelly is now the gatekeeper in the Trump White House.
Here are some colorful moments in Kelly's distinguished military and professional career that will give you a good idea of how the general will run the White House:
As a young man, he literally rode empty freight cars across the country for fun.
According to The Boston Globe:
As a teenager coming of age in the turbulent 1960s, Kelly hitchhiked across the country to Washington state and then rode the freight trains back.
His first military mission was a very important one.
According to his interview with Marines magazine:
“I also went into the Merchant Marines for a year and my first time overseas was taking 10,000 tons of beer to Vietnam,” he said.
Kelly voluntarily decided to join the Marines because that is what a what a “self-respecting Irish-Catholic from Boston” did.
When his draft number was coming up, John Kelly volunteered because that is what men do where he comes from. According to the Boston Globe:
When his mother warned him that his draft number was about to come up, he enlisted in the Marines in 1970, which was “the only way to serve for any self-respecting Irish-Catholic from Boston,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said of Kelly at a ceremony in January before the general retired.
According to Marines magazine, every man Kelly knew growing up was a veteran, so the decision to serve his country was an easy one:
“In the America I grew up in, every male was a veteran; my dad, my uncles and all the people on the block,” said Kelly. “So, with that kind of background and the draft, you assumed you were going to go into the service when your time came.”
In my neighborhood you joined the Marines, he said.
He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1970 and served as an infantryman with the 2nd Marine Division, at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, until his discharge as a sergeant in 1972.
Kelly served 45 years in the Marines, from coast to coast and in multiple war overseas zones.
Kelly has served the Marine Corps on every coast and internationally. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, his posts include:
- Basic training in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
- Sea duty in Mayport, Florida, aboard aircraft carriers USS Forrestal and USS Independence.
- U.S. Army's Infantry Officer Advanced Course in Fort Benning, Georgia.
- Marine Corps Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
- Head of the Offensive Tactics Section, Tactics Group, Quantico, Virginia.
- Director of the Infantry Officer Course, Quantico.
- Commanding Officer, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
- Commandant's Liaison Officer to the U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
- Special Assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, Mons, Belgium.
- Assistant Chief of Staff G-3 with the 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune.
- Assistant Division Commander, 1st Marine Division, Camp Lejeune.
- Legislative Assistant to the Commandant from 2004 to 2007.
- Commanding General, Camp Pendleton, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
- Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Southern Command.
He also led Marines in Operation Desert Storm and the Iraq War.
Kelly loved serving with his men, and disliked being promoted, because it took him away from the battle.
Even when serving in the highest levels of military leadership, Kelly would stop and get his hands dirty with the troops. In Iraq, he would stop on the side of the road and help change their tires. According to an interview in Marines magazine:
He returned to 2nd Marine Division, where he served as a platoon commander, company executive officer, assistant operations officer and then an infantry company commander. Kelly learned what he truly loved about the Corps during this time of leading troops as an officer at the lowest level.
“One of the worst things about getting promoted as an officer is that you get further and further away from day-to-day contact with young Marines,” Kelly said.
Kelly learned the best thing you could do as a leader is look out for your Marines and let them know someone has got their back. He modeled his entire career around this concept, he said.
“My whole last tour in Iraq, I was always on the road,” Kelly said. “To show up to a [forward operating base] in the middle of nowhere or at a convoy that’s broken down and talk to [Marines] as they’re changing the tire is the only way to do business.”
Kelly knows what ultimate sacrifice for your country means.
Both of Kelly's sons followed him into the service. Both followed him to war. One did not return.
According to recent reporting in Independent Journal Review:
Retired General John Kelly put his life on the line for the American people for nearly four decades in the U.S. Marine Corps.
But Kelly, now serving in the Trump administration as Homeland Security Secretary, doesn't just know service — he also knows sacrifice of the greatest measure: in 2010, 1st Lieutenant Robert Michael Kelly, his 29-year-old son, was killed in Sangin, Afghanistan on a patrol.
Just four days later, Kelly gave a eulogy for two other Marines who were killed as they attempted to stop a suicide bomber from driving a truck into their compound.
"The two Marines had about five seconds left to live. It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up. By this time the truck was half-way through the barriers and gaining speed the whole time. Here, the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were- some running right past the Marines. They had three seconds left to live.
For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines’ weapons firing non-stop…the truck’s windshield exploding into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tore in to the body of the son-of-a-bitch who is trying to get past them to kill their brothers — American and Iraqi — bedded down in the barracks totally unaware of the fact that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground. If they had been aware, they would have known they were safe … because two Marines stood between them and a crazed suicide bomber ...
The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God.
Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty … into eternity. That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight — for you.”
On Memorial Day, Trump laid flowers at the gravestone of Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Robert Kelly, as his father looked on.
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images
Say what you will about the rest of the Trump administration, John Kelly is a damn American hero.
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