Jay W. MacKelvie
|Born||September 23, 1890|
Kingsbury County, South Dakota, United States
|Died||December 5, 1985 (aged 95)|
Denver, Colorado, United States
|Service/||United States Army|
|Years of service||1913-1946|
|Unit|| Cavalry Branch|
Field Artillery Branch
|Commands held||85th Division Artillery|
7th Division Artillery
XII Corps Artillery
90th Infantry Division
80th Division Artillery
V Corps Artillery
|Battles/wars||World War I|
World War II
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.
Jay Ward MacKelvie was born in Esmond, Kingsbury County, South Dakota on September 23, 1890. His birth name was Joseph Ward McKelvie and he was one of several children born to Francis McKelvie and Janette Gibb (Bainbridge) McKelvie. He was usually addressed by his middle name, and over time modified his first name to the initial J., and later to the name Jay. In addition, he later altered the spelling of his last name from McKelvie to MacKelvie, its original Scottish spelling.
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. He then joined an older brother in Butte, Montana, where he worked at a smelter for the Anaconda Copper Mine. He later worked on construction of the Butte, Anaconda and Pacific Railway, a position he left in order to join the military.
MacKelvie enlisted in the United States Army in 1913, and was assigned to the 7th Cavalry Regiment. By 1915 he had risen to the non-commissioned officer (NCO) ranks. MacKelvie advanced to regimental sergeant major before receiving his commission as a second lieutenant in 1917.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
After retiring from the military, MacKelvie resided in Battle Creek, Michigan. 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. 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. In 1964 his wife and he relocated to Denver, Colorado so they could live closer to their son Philip's family.