John William Vessey, Jr.

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General John W. Vessey, Jr. "was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1922. He joined the Minnesota National Guard in 1939 and was called to service in World War II. General Vessey received a field commission as an officer at Anzio in 1944. During his military career, he served in many different posts from Korea to Vietnam. Toward the end of his career, he reached the rank of four-star general and was appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Ronald Reagan. After forty-six years of military service, General Vessey retired in 1985. In the tradition of the “Mud Soldier” he had come to be known as, the retired General returned to Vietnam as the Presidential Emissary to Hanoi for POW/MIA matters. Today, General Vessey continues to serve his community.

"General Vessey is a distinguished soldier, diplomat and advisor to presidents. During his career in the Army, he distinguished himself as the “soldier’s soldier” and the “GI’s General”. General Vessey never forgot the least of his soldiers, having been an enlisted man himself (a self-described "mud soldier") and having served at every level of the Army. General Vessey’s career was highly decorated as he distinguished himself in all theaters of peace and war. President George H.W. Bush awarded General Vessey the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992. Inspired by this life of selfless service to country, General John Vessey, Jr. Leadership Academy has the great pleasure to bear his name and to honor his example of service to the United States and to our freedom. We seek to continue his work by serving young men and women in St. Paul, using his example as a beacon by which to guide us and our cadets to lives of community leadership." [1]

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  1. Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient Gen. John W. Vessey, Presidential Medal of Freedom, accessed January 17, 2008.
  2. Center for Preventive Action Advisory Committee, organizational web page, accessed January 21, 2013.