President Trump awarded the Medal of Freedom on Tuesday to retired Gen. Jack Keane, calling the former Vietnam paratrooper and Army vice chief of staff “a courageous warrior and a fearless patriot.”
The president bestowed the nation’s highest civilian honor on Gen. Keane in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House to mark his nearly 38 years in uniform.
“Jack Keane is a visionary, a brilliant strategist and an American hero,” the president said. “Jack has given me a lot of good advice, too.”
Now a national security commentator on Fox News, Gen. Keane, 77, was in the Pentagon on 9/11 when Islamist terrorists flew an airliner into the building. The president said he “ran through smoke and debris and evacuated the injured, saving lives.”
Gen. Keane said the 9/11 attacks were “personal” for him.
“I lost 85 Army teammates, lived the tragedy up close, attended scores of funerals,” Gen. Keane said. “Despite having left the Army 17 years ago, I never left the 9/11 wars and America’s focus on radical Islam and what they did to us.”
Turning to Mr. Trump, he said, “Mr. President, thank you for the Trump defense buildup.”
“What you are doing to dig us out of the deep hole that you the military in is all about protecting America, not just for today but for the generation to come,” he told the president.
He said he was raised in a Catholic family and attended Catholic schools in New York, where he was born.
“I thank God for guiding me in the journey of life,” Gen. Keane said.
He said the Vietnam war changed his life.
“It was there I truly learned the value of human life, to treasure it and protect it,” he said.