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Tribute To General John H. Tilelli, Jr.

Rep. Ike Skelton

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Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate and pay tribute to Gen. John H. Tilelli, Jr., who retired from the U.S. Army on January 31, 2000, after more than 33 years of exemplary service.

General Tilelli was raised in Holmdel, NJ. A 1963 graduate of Pennsylvania Military College, he received a bachelor's degree in economics and was commissioned as an armor officer. He attended the armor officer basic and advanced courses and Airborne School. General Tilelli is also a 1974 graduate of the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College and completed the U.S. Army War College in 1983. He received a master's degree in education administration from Lehigh University in 1972. Widener University awarded him an honorary doctorate in business management in 1996 and the University of Maryland presented him with an honorary doctorate in law in 1997.

General Tilelli saw combat in two wars during his career. In Vietnam, he served as the company commander, 18th Engineer Brigade and as the district senior advisor, Advisory Team 84. During Desert Shield and Desert Storm, General Tilelli was the commanding general, 1st Cavalry Division.

In other assignments, General Tilelli served in the 3d Battalion, 77th Armor, Fort Devens, MA. He also held positions in the 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment, the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, and then 1st Armored Division while stationed in Germany. Additionally, he had the opportunity to mentor future soldiers as an assistant professor of military science, Lafayette College, PA, and shared his technical expertise during a tour at the U.S. Army Armor School, Fort Knox, KY.

General Tilelli commanded the Seventh Army Training Command and Combat Maneuver Training Center in Germany before assuming command of the 1st Cavalry Division. After that, he served in the Pentagon as the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans, then as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans. After his promotion to general, he served as Vice Chief of Staff of the Army before assuming command of U.S. Army Forces Command. General Tilelli then became the Commander of the United Nations Command, Republic of Korea/United States Combined Forces Command and United States Forces Korea.

General Tilelli made monumental contributions and improvements to the United States and Republic of Korea military coalition and vastly improved its ability to deter and defend against attack. He also served as a vital link between the United States and the civilian government of the Republic of Korea, proving to be one of the Army's most successful diplomats. His political and military expertise resulted in the right application and employment of forces to ultimately deescalate the rising tensions during several crucial periods on the Korean peninsula. In addition to improving military readiness and force projection capability, General Tilelli ensured that all soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines under his command received the best care, the best facilities and the best service possible for themselves and their family members.

General Tilelli's decorations included the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal (with three Oak Leaf Clusters), the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with ``V'' Device (with two Oak Leaf Clusters), the Meritorious Service Medal (with three Oak Leaf Clusters), the Air Medal, the Army Commendation Medal (with two Oak Leaf Clusters), and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star and Palm. He also wears the Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge, the Office of the Secretary of Defense Badge, the Joint Chiefs of Staff Badge, and the Army Staff Identification Badge.

Mr. Speaker, General John Tilelli is the kind of officer that all soldiers strive to be. He has served with honor and distinction, dedicating over 33 years to our soldiers and our Nation. The U.S. Army is a better institution for his service. I know the Members of the House will join me in offering gratitude to General Tilelli and his family--his wife, Valerie, and his daughters, Christine, Margaret, and Jeanne--for their service to our country, and we wish them all the best in the years ahead.