Lieutenant General William M. Keys retired from the Marine Corps 1 September 1994. His last active duty assignment was the Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Atlantic; Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic; Commanding General, II Marine Expeditionary Force; Commander, Marine Striking Force, Atlantic; Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South (Designate); and the Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Europe (Designate). He was advanced to his final grade and assumed his duties on 25 June 1991.

A native of Fredericktown, Pennsylvania, General Keys was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps upon his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy with a B.S. degree in June 1960. His professional military education includes The Basic School, Amphibious Warfare School, and the Command and Staff College, all at Quantico, Virginia. General Keys is also a graduate of the National War College in Washington, D.C., and holds an M.S. degree from American University, and an honorary Ph.D. in Public Service from Washington and Jefferson College.

Designated an infantry officer, General Keys served at every level of operational command: initially as a platoon leader with 3d Battalion, 2d Marine Regiment; as a company commander with the 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment in Vietnam; as Commanding Officer, 3d Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment; as Regimental Commander of the 6th Marines; and as Commanding General, 2d Marine Division during Desert Storm combat operations in Southwest Asia. There he led the Division in its successful assault across the Kuwaiti border, breaching Iraqi barriers and minefields, and into Kuwait City. He also served an early tour with the Marine Detachment aboard the USS Long Beach, and a second tour in Vietnam as an advisor to the Vietnamese Marine Corps.

He held the following principal staff assignments: Infantry Officers’ Monitor, Personnel Management Division, Headquarters Marine Corps; Marine Corps Liaison Officer to the U.S. Senate; Special Projects Directorate in the Office of the Commandant; Aide de Camp to the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps; Deputy Director, and subsequently Director, Personnel Management Division, Manpower and Reserve Affairs Department, HQMC; and the Deputy Joint Secretariat, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C.

General Keys’ decorations and medals include: the Navy Cross; Distinguished Service Medal; Silver Star Medal; Legion of Merit with Combat “V”; Bronze Star with Combat “V”; Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Combat Action Ribbon; Presidential Unit Citation; Navy Unit Commendation; Meritorious Unit Commendation; National Defense Service Medal; Vietnam Service Medal with four bronze stars; Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm and Silver Star; Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal (First Class); Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross Color); Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Civil Actions Color); and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. 

Marine Corps University