Air Force general chosen as next JPAC commander
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Air Force Maj. Gen. Kelly K. McKeague, a 1977 Damien Memorial School graduate, has been selected to become commander of the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command on Oct. 31.
He will succeed Maj. Gen. Stephen D. Tom, who is retiring after 40 years. Tom assumed command of JPAC in January 2010.
McKeague, who was born in Liliha and grew up in Papakolea, is special assistant to the chief of the National Guard Bureau. His parents, Raymond and Lani McKeague, live in Kahaluu.
His father, a Saint Louis School graduate, served for 26 years in the Army and went to work for the Honolulu Police Department after retiring from the military.
McKeague, 53, will be the first commander of JPAC from the Air Force. This will be his first Hawaii assignment in his 31 years in the Air Force and the Air National Guard.
In a telephone call from his Virginia office, McKeague said he is "privileged and humbled" by his new assignment.
"From my standpoint, there is no greater mission," he said.
McKeague is one of two generals who graduated from Damien in 1977. The other is also an Air Force two-star general, Mike Keltz, assigned to the U.S. Pacific Command as director of strategic planning and policy. Keltz is a 1981 Air Force Academy graduate and a command C-130 pilot.
McKeague said: "I only have good things to say about my Damien upbringing. The brothers there really shaped and influenced me — my learning habits, the discipline. I think the school made me a better leader and a better officer."
Reporting to the U.S. Pacific Command, JPAC employs more than 450 military and civilian personnel and continues the search for the more than 83,000 Americans missing from past conflicts.
McKeague received his commission in 1981 through the Georgia Institute of Technology Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program and began his military career as a civil engineering officer. He served on active duty as a civil engineer with assignments at Air National Guard Readiness Center followed by seven years as a legislative liaison at the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force and the National Guard Bureau.
McKeague served for 12 years in the Air Force and then joined the Maryland National Guard, where he was a member for 19 years.
McKeague is married with four children. One of his three sons is an infantry and ranger officer with the Maryland Army National Guard.
Maj. Gen. Bob Lee, former state adjutant general, called McKeague "a solid citizen."
"He will be terrific," Lee added.
Lee worked for eight years with McKeague while Lee was head of the Hawaii National Guard and McKeague was assigned to the National Guard Bureau.