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First Name: James

Last Name: Conway

Birthplace: Walnut Ridge, AR, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Terry

Date of Birth: 26 December 1947

Rank: General

Years Served: 1970-2010
James Terry Conway

•  Gulf War (1990 - 1991)
•  Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom) (2003 - 2011)


James Terry Conway
General, U.S. Marine Corps

James Terry Conway was born on 26 December 1947 in Walnut Ridge, AR. He graduated from Roosevelt High School in St. Louis, MO, and then attended Southeast Missouri State University where he was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, graduating in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. After completing Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in 1970. His first assignment was command of a Rifle Platoon with 3rd Battalion 1st Marines, based at Camp Pendleton, CA. He also served as the Battalion's 106mm recoilless rifle platoon commander. Later, he served as Marine Executive Officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) and as Commanding Officer of the Sea School at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, CA.

After graduating with honors from the Army's Infantry Officers Advanced Course at Fort Benning, GA, Conway commanded two companies in the 2nd Marine Regiment's Operations and Security Section. As a field grade officer, he commanded two companies of students and taught tactics at The Basic School. He then went on to serve as Operations Officer for the 31st Marine Amphibious Unit, with sea duty in the western Pacific and in contingency operations off Beirut, Lebanon.

Returning to the U.S., Conway was assigned as Senior Aide-de-Camp to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for two years. After graduating from Marine Corps Command and Staff College with honors, he took command of 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines through its eight-month deployment to Southwest Asia during the Gulf War.

After the war, he was promoted to Colonel and assigned command of The Basic School. Promoted to Brigadier General in December 1995, he again was assigned to the Joint Chiefs. After being promoted to Major General, he served as Commander of the 1st Marine Division and as Deputy Commanding General of Marine Forces Central. He was promoted to Lieutenant General and assumed Command of I Marine Expeditionary Force on 16 November 2002. He commanded I MEF during two combat tours in Iraq, with 60,000 troops under his command, including Marines, soldiers, sailors, and British forces. In the book The Iraq War, Conway was described as, "big, buff, well read and well educated.....he represented all that was best about the new U.S. Marine Corps, which General Al Gray as the Commandant had set up."

In a press interview on 30 May 2003, Conway was questioned about the failure at that point to locate weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He replied, in part:

"It was a surprise to me then, it remains a surprise to me now, that we have not uncovered weapons... It's not for lack of trying. We've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there... What the regime was intending to do in terms of its use of the weapons, we thought we understood-or we certainly had our best guess, our most dangerous, our most likely courses of action that the intelligence folks were giving us. We were simply wrong. But whether or not we're wrong at the national level, I think, still very much remains to be seen."

On 13 June 2006, Conway was nominated by President George W. Bush to become the 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps; the nomination was confirmed by the Senate on 2 August 2006. On 13 November 2006, Conway was promoted to his current rank at Marine Barracks, Washington, DC, and became the 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps. He is the first Commandant in nearly 40 years to have not served in the Vietnam War.

On 11 June 2009, Conway spoke at the National Press Club about the importance of maintaining the Amphibious assault ships to lift two Marine Expeditionary Brigades and the time "at home" away from the current wars to train for amphibious assault.

Conway was reported to have had "major reservations" about the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," in contrast to the Pentagon opinion that the younger rank and file of the military didn't have such reservations about serving with openly gay servicemembers. Conway, along with Chief of Naval Operations Gary Roughead and Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army George Casey, supported running a one-year study on the effects of a possible repeal. Conway said that if gay Marines are allowed to serve openly, he might need to change the policy that requires unmarried Marines to share rooms. The policy was repealed on 22 December 2010, after his tenure as Commandant had ended.

On 22 October 2010, Conway turned the position of Commandant over to James F. Amos, his Assistant Commandant, at a ceremony at Marine Barracks in Washington. Defense Secretary Robert Gates presented Conway with his third Defense Distinguished Service Medal during the change-in-command.

General Conway retired on 1 November 2010.

Conway is a graduate of the Infantry Officers Advanced Course; the Marine Corps Command and Staff College; and the Air War College.

Medals and Awards

Defense Distinguished Service Medal w/ 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal w/ 2 Award Stars
Navy and Marine Corps
Commendation Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
Combat Action Ribbon
Navy Presidential Unit Citation
Joint Meritorious Unit Award w/ 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Navy Unit Commendation w/ 1 Service Star
Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ 1 Service Star
Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
National Defense Service Medal w/ 2 Service Stars
Southwest Asia Service Medal w/ 3 Service Stars
Iraq Campaign Medal w/ 2 Service Stars
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Korea Defense Service Medal
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 3 Service Stars
Marine Corps Drill Instructor Ribbon
Legion of Honor, Commander
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)


Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge

Conway also holds 7 expert awards in both rifle and pistol marksmanship badges.


In 2010, Conway was the recipient of the distinguished "Keeper of the Flame" Award.


Conway is married to Annette Drury Conway and they have three children. His two sons are Marine officers (infantry and reconnaissance), and his daughter is married to a Marine helicopter pilot.

Honoree ID: 380   Created by: MHOH




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