General John William Vessey, Jr. began his 46-year military career in the Minnesota National Guard in 1939 when he was 16. He received a battlefield commission during the Battle of Anzio while serving in the 34th Infantry Division in World War II. General Vessey also served during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
In 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed him to serve as the tenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a position he would hold for over three years. He was the last four-star General who was also a combat veteran of World War II on active service. When he retired in 1985 at the age of 63, he was the longest-serving active duty member of the United States Army. In 1967 Vessey was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and in 1992 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The George C. Marshall Foundation is honored to host a digital archive for General John W. Vessey, a WWII veteran, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and long-time member of the Marshall Foundation Board of Trustees. General Vessey shared many of the same qualities as General George C. Marshall, the namesake of our organization. The General Vessey Digital Archive will be an invaluable resource for current and future leaders who wish to study General Vessey’s remarkable career and gain critical insights into his most important leadership lessons.
The General John W. Vessey, Jr. Digital Archive is made possible through the financial support of: