Jay W. MacKelvie
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Jay W. MacKelvie
Jay W. MacKelvie
Jay MacKelvie.jpg
BornSeptember 23, 1890
Kingsbury County, South Dakota, United States
DiedDecember 5, 1985 (aged 95)
Denver, Colorado, United States
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1913-1946
RankUS-O7 insignia.svg Brigadier General
UnitArmyCAVBranchPlaque.png Cavalry Branch
USA - Army Field Artillery Insignia.png Field Artillery Branch
Commands held85th Division Artillery
7th Division Artillery
XII Corps Artillery
90th Infantry Division
80th Division Artillery
V Corps Artillery
Battles/warsWorld War I
World War II
AwardsBronze Star
Purple Heart
Legion of Honour (France)
Croix de Guerre with Palm (France)
Order of the Patriotic War 2nd Class, (Soviet Union)

Brigadier General Jay W. MacKelvie (September 23, 1890 - December 5, 1985) was a career United States Army officer. He was prominent during World War II for being relieved of his command of the 90th Infantry Division shortly after the Normandy landings.

Early life and start of career

Jay Ward MacKelvie was born in Esmond, Kingsbury County, South Dakota on September 23, 1890.[1] His birth name was Joseph Ward McKelvie and he was one of several children born to Francis McKelvie and Janette Gibb (Bainbridge) McKelvie.[2] He was usually addressed by his middle name,[3] and over time modified his first name to the initial J., and later to the name Jay.[4][5] In addition, he later altered the spelling of his last name from McKelvie to MacKelvie, its original Scottish spelling.[2][3][5]

Following the 1891 death of his father, MacKelvie's mother moved her family to Illinois to live closer to their relatives. In 1908, MacKelvie graduated from Galesburg High School in Galesburg, Illinois.[6][7] He then joined an older brother in Butte, Montana, where he worked at a smelter for the Anaconda Copper Mine.[7] He later worked on construction of the Butte, Anaconda and Pacific Railway, a position he left in order to join the military.[7]

Early military career

MacKelvie enlisted in the United States Army in 1913, and was assigned to the 7th Cavalry Regiment.[8] By 1915 he had risen to the non-commissioned officer (NCO) ranks.[9] MacKelvie advanced to regimental sergeant major before receiving his commission as a second lieutenant in 1917.[10]

World War I

Originally assigned to the Cavalry Branch, MacKelvie later transferred to the Field Artillery Branch. He joined the 78th Field Artillery Regiment for World War I, and took part in the St. Mihiel Offensive in 1918.[11]

Post-World War I

He remained in the service after World War I and in the subsequent interwar period, receiving promotion to first lieutenant in 1917, temporary Captain from 1917 to 1919, permanent captain in 1920, major in 1933, and lieutenant colonel in 1940. In the 1920s, he served as a member of the 82nd Field Artillery Battalion (Horse), a unit of the 1st Cavalry Division.[12] MacKelvie completed the Field Artillery Battery Officers' Course in 1923, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff School in 1932, and the U.S. Army War College in 1936.[13]

World War II

The meeting of War Plans Division, War Department General Staff in 1942. From left to right: Harrison, Lee S. Gerow, Crawford, Eisenhower, Leonard T. Gerow, Handy, Sherrill, McKee and MacKelvie.

After service in the War Department's Plans Division at the start of World War II brought him to the attention of General George Marshall, the Army Chief of Staff, in 1942 he was promoted to brigadier general and named commander of the 85th Division Artillery. He served until 1943, when he was appointed commander of the 7th Division Artillery. From 1943 to 1944 MacKelvie commanded the XII Corps Artillery.[14]

MacKelvie was named commander of the 90th Infantry Division in 1944 and participated in the invasion of Normandy. Shortly after the invasion, the VII Corps commander, Major General Joseph Lawton Collins decided that the division was not performing satisfactorily in combat. As a result, he relieved MacKelvie and two regimental commanders.[15][16]

MacKelvie had been nominated for promotion to temporary major general while in command of the 90th Division, but after his relief the nomination was withdrawn.[17]

MacKelvie was relieved without prejudice, and Collins made clear that he thought MacKelvie was capable of continuing to exercise command, especially of Artillery units. After being relieved from command of the 90th Division MacKelvie was assigned to command the 80th Division Artillery, serving until 1945.[18]

From 1945 until his 1946 retirement MacKelvie served as commander of the V Corps Artillery.[19]

Awards and decorations

MacKelvie's awards and decorations included: two awards of the Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart; Legion of Honor and Croix de Guerre with Palm (France); and Order of the Patriotic War 2nd Class, (Soviet Union).[20][21]

Later career

After retiring from the military, MacKelvie resided in Battle Creek, Michigan.[22] In the 1950s and 1960s he was a civil defense consultant, chairman of Battle Creek's Civil Defense Advisory Council, and a member of Michigan's Civil Defense Advisory Council.[23][24][25][26] MacKelvie was a member of the Calhoun County Board of Social Welfare, and was also involved in several civic projects, including the creation of the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center and serving as vice president and president of the board of directors for the Battle Creek Civic Art Center.[27][28] In 1964 his wife and he relocated to Denver, Colorado so they could live closer to their son Philip's family.[29]

Death and burial

MacKelvie died in Denver, Colorado on December 5, 1985.[30][31][32] He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Section 59 Lot 532.[33]


In 1924, MacKelvie was married to Ethel Leonard (1896-1985) of Battle Creek.[34] They were the parents of two sons, Jay W. MacKelvie Jr. and Philip A. MacKelvie.[35][36][37]


  1. ^ David G. Chandler, James Lawton Collins, The D-Day Encyclopedia, 1994, page 347
  2. ^ a b Rice, S. K. (2018). The Personal History of Michael Muir (PDF). Shareene K. Rice-Strem. p. 56.
  3. ^ a b "Society News: Leonard-MacKelvie". Battle Creek Enquirer and Evening News. Battle Creek, MI. April 12, 1924. p. 3 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "About the City: J. Ward McKelvie has gone to Galesburg, Ill". Anaconda Standard. Anaconda, MT. January 6, 1910. p. 4 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ a b "Appointment Announced of Second Lieutenants in the Army". Washington Evening Star. Washington, DC. July 11, 1917. p. 5 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ Galesburg High School (1911). The Alumni, 1861-1911. Galesburg, IL: Wagoner Printing. p. 45 – via Internet Archive.
  7. ^ a b c "Army Officer Visits Old Stamping Ground". Anaconda Standard. Anaconda, MT. October 17, 1920. p. 20 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ National Archives and Records Administration, U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914, Record for Jay W. MacKelvie, accessed September 15, 2012
  9. ^ California Passenger and Crew Lists, 1882-1957, Record of Incoming Passengers (J. W. Mackelvie, Manila to San Francisco, U.S. Transport Ship Sheridan, December 14, 1915
  10. ^ U.S. Committee on Public Information, Official Bulletin: List of Second Lieutenants Appointed From the Enlisted Men of the Regular Army, Volume 1, 1917, page 14
  11. ^ Harold J. Meyer, Hanging Sam: A Military Biography of General Samuel T. Williams, 1990, page 3
  12. ^ MacKelvie, J. W. (July 1, 1925). "Practical Suggestions from the Horse Artillery" (PDF). Field Artillery Journal. Washington, DC: United States Field Artillery Association. p. 388.
  13. ^ U.S. Army Adjutant general, Official U.S. Army Register, 1946, page 428
  14. ^ William C. Sylvan, Francis G. Smith Jr., Normandy to Victory: The War Diary of General Courtney H. Hodges and the First U.S. Army, 2008, Footnote 67
  15. ^ Henry G. Gole, General William E. DePuy: Preparing the Army for Modern War, 2008
  16. ^ U.S. Army Center of Military History, Utah Beach to Cherbourg (6 June-27 June 1944), 1947, page 129
  17. ^ Army and Navy Journal, Incorporated, Armed Forces Journal International, Volume 81, Issues 27-52, 1944, page 1274
  18. ^ 80th Infantry Division Commemorative Web Site, 80th Infantry Division History Page, accessed September 15, 2012
  19. ^ Normandy to Victory, Footnote 67
  20. ^ Official U.S. Army Register, 1946, page 428
  21. ^ 80th Infantry Division, Miscellaneous Reports, Awards for Heroism and Service, 1945, page 1
  22. ^ Schram, Donald F. (August 23, 1950). "It Happened in Michigan". Detroit Free Press. Detroit, MI. p. 17.
  23. ^ "A Soldier Says Another Farewell: Brig. Gen. Jay W. MacKelvie and Wife Moving to Denver". Battle Creek Enquirer. Battle Creek, MI. January 12, 1964. p. 9.
  24. ^ "Retired Army Brig. Gen. Jay W. MacKelvie recently received an award plaque from the region 4 Office of Civil Defense for almost a decade of volunteer service to federal civil defense authorities there". Battle Creek Enquirer. Battle Creek, MI. January 26, 1964. p. 29.
  25. ^ "Gen. MacKelvie Talks to B. & P. W. on Civil Defense". Battle Creek Enquirer. Battle Creek, MI. October 3, 1950. p. 6.
  26. ^ "Senate Confirms 12 Appointments". Holland Evening Sentinel. Holland, MI. United Press International. March 3, 1962. p. 7.
  27. ^ "A Soldier Says Another Farewell: Brig. Gen. Jay W. MacKelvie and Wife Moving to Denver"
  28. ^ "Gen. MacKelvie Head of Civic Art Center". Battle Creek Enquirer. Battle Creek, MI. May 22, 1963. p. 15.
  29. ^ "A Soldier Says Another Farewell: Brig. Gen. Jay W. MacKelvie and Wife Moving to Denver"
  30. ^ "Jay MacKelvie Dies; Retired General, Community Worker". Battle Creek Enquirer. Battle Creek, MI. December 18, 1985. p. 11.
  31. ^ Social Security Death Index, entry for Jay MacKelvie, accessed September 15, 2012
  32. ^ U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010, entry for Jay MacKelvie, accessed September 15, 2012
  33. ^ Jay W. MacKelvie at Find a Grave
  34. ^ "Obituary, Ethel MacKelvie". Battle Creek Enquirer. Battle Creek, MI. October 27, 1985. p. 8.
  35. ^ "A Soldier Says Another Farewell: Brig. Gen. Jay W. MacKelvie and Wife Moving to Denver"
  36. ^ "Death Notice, Jay W. MacKelvie Jr". Battle Creek Enquirer. Battle Creek, MI. October 22, 1995. p. 10.
  37. ^ "Obituary, Philip A. MacKelvie". www.legacy.com. Evanston, IL: Legacy.com. September 11, 2011.
Military offices
Preceded by
Henry Terrell Jr.
Commanding General 90th Infantry Division
January 1944 - July 1944
Succeeded by
Eugene M. Landrum

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