President Donald Trump awarded former Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. (Ret.) Jack Keane the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a White House ceremony on Tuesday.
“Today it is my great privilege to present our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to a courageous warrior and a fearless patriot, Gen. Jack Keane,” Trump said.
Keane served as the former Vice Chief of the Army. He was tapped to become Chief of Staff of the Army in 2003 but retired in order to take care of his wife, Terry, who was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. She died in 2014.
Since retiring, Keane has served as a trusted adviser to several U.S. presidents. Keane was the architect of the Iraq surge, which is credited with turning around the Iraq War in the U.S.’s favor.
“Jack, I have to say, has given me a lot of good advice, too,” Trump said. “Jack Keane is a visionary, a brilliant strategist, and an American hero.”
Gen. Keane waved his hands, trying to shoo off two rounds of applause. pic.twitter.com/G5qa8o9REc
— Kristina Wong 🇺🇸 (@kristina_wong) March 10, 2020
Keane, during his remarks, acknowledged the president, his family, and his “two great loves”: his late wife Terry and his current wife Angela.
“With all honesty, I wouldn’t be standing here without their love and their devotion,” he said.
Keane thanked the president for rebuilding the military after it was depleted by a decade of cuts during the Obama administration.
“Mr. President, thank you for the Trump defense buildup. What you are doing to dig us out of the deep hole that you found the military in is all about protecting America, not just for today, but for the generation to come,” he said.
“Thank you again, Mr. President, for making this day happen,” he added.
Keane grew up in a housing project on the lower east side of Manhattan and became the first member of his family to graduate from college. He served with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam, for which he was awarded a Silver Star. He served in a number of leadership roles in the Army and was serving in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
He said September 11, 2001, motivated him to do whatever he could to keep Americans safe.
His award citation read:
General Jack Keane is one of our Nation’s most distinguished military leaders. General Keane proudly served his country in Vietnam as a paratrooper, receiving the Silver Star for his courage and gallantry in action. His steadfast leadership as a four-star General and as Vice Chief of Staff of the Army provided stability and direction for those under his command. Since retiring from the military, General Keane has remained engaged on matters of foreign policy, devoting himself to developing policies that confront the dynamic threats facing our Nation. The United States proudly honors General Jack Keane, whose tireless devotion to our country has defined him as a true American patriot.
Attending the ceremony were members of the president’s cabinet, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Attorney General William Barr, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, and Assistant to the President and Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow. Also attending were Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).