Arkansas
Military Veterans'
Hall of Fame

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Arkansas
Military Veterans'
Hall of Fame

General James Terry Conway | Arkansas Military Veterans' Hall of Fame

General James Terry Conway

General Conway of Walnut Ridge, 34th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. He retired as a Four Star General after 40 years of service starting in 1972. His many decorations include three awards of the Nation’s highest military service medal - the Defense Distinguished Service Medal. He commanded the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force during two combat tours in Iraq.

Conway was born in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. He graduated from Roosevelt High School in St. Louis, Missouri 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. He was commissioned as an infantry officer in 1970.

Conway's first assignment was command of a rifle platoon with 3rd Battalion 1st Marines, based at Camp Pendleton. He also served as the battalion's 106mm recoilless rifle platoon commander. Later, he served as Marine detachment 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.

After graduating with honors from the Army's Infantry Officers Advanced Course, 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 United States, Conway was assigned as Senior Aide 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 and later served as President of the Marine Corps University. 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 (I MEF) on November 16, 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 United States Marine Corps, which General Al Gray as the commandant had set up.

On June 13, 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 August 2, 2006. On November 13, Conway was promoted to the rank of general   at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. and became the 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps. He was the first Commandant in nearly 40 years to have not served in the Vietnam War. 

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