John B. Keeley – Colonel, United States Army

From a contemporary press report:


John B. Keeley, 74, a former Army Brigade Commander who retired as a Colonel in 1976, died of pneumonia February 20, 2004, at Inova Alexandria Hospital, where he had undergone lung cancer surgery.

After his military retirement, he was a Central Intelligence Agency executive, Senate aide and volunteer in area hospice activities.

Colonel Keeley, a resident of Alexandria, was born in Fort Sheridan, Illinois. His father was a career Army officer, and he grew up at a series of Army posts and in dusty towns near base during the hardscrabble days of the pre-World War II Army.

He attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where liberal arts courses generated a lifelong interest in the human side of the U.S. military and in the crosscurrents of international affairs. He taught and wrote extensively in both areas.

After his graduation from West Point in 1952, he took a master's degree in politics at Princeton University, then from 1957 to 1960 served on the West Point social sciences faculty.

After that teaching assignment, he started up the ladder of troop commands. During the Tet offensive in South Vietnam in 1968, he commanded an infantry battalion in the Delta, the vital rice bowl of the country. He developed a series of innovative tactics to help pacify the Delta and keep its vital roadway to Saigon open.

From 1974 to 1976, he commanded the 2d Brigade of the 3rd Armored Division in West Germany. He retired from the Army in 1976.

His post-Army positions included a teaching stint at the White Burkett Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. While there, he edited a book titled “The Volunteer Force and American Society.”

In 1979, he moved to the Washington area and became a commentator on military affairs for CNN. In the 1980s, he took a series of civilian posts, including director of policy guidance at the CIA and national security aide for Senator Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.). He taught at Georgetown University and the U.S. Naval War College and founded a think tank in Newport, Rhode Island, called the Newport Institute.

Colonel Keeley's volunteer work included caring for children with terminal illnesses, work that led to his becoming board chairman of Children's Hospice International in Alexandria.

Survivors include his wife, Catherine of Alexandria; four children, Tom Keeley of Beverly, Mass., Elizabeth Keeley of Melrose, Mass., Martha Keeley of Ipswich, Mass., and Emily Keeley Siegrist of Davidsonville; a brother; and four grandchildren.


On February 20, 2004, JOHN B. KEELEY, of Alexandria, VA. Husband of Catherine H. Keeley; father of Elizabeth, Tom, Martha H. Keeley and Emily Keeley Siegrist; brother of Dennis Keeley. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Gabrielle, Owen, Maxwell and Savannah.

Funeral service will be celebrated at the Fort Myer Old Post Chapel on Thursday, April 8, at 11 a.m. Interment with Full Military Honors, Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Children's Hospice International, 901 N. Pitt St., Suite 230, Alexandria, VA 22314.


  • VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 06/03/1952 – 08/31/1976
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 06/06/1929
  • DATE OF DEATH: 02/20/2004
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 04/08/2004


Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment