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Texas State University

Alumnus Lt. Gen. Mark D. Kelly confirmed as 4-Star General and commander of Air Combat Command

Alumni Impact

Emma Carberry | July 30, 2020

Kelly in Afghanistan
General Kelly served in numerous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Pictured here after a combat mission in Afghanistan.

On July 20, the United States Senate confirmed the appointment of Lt. Gen. Mark. D. Kelly (B.A. ‘86) to general and commander of the U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command. General is the highest ranking for an officer in the U.S. Air Force and holds four stars. General Kelly entered the Air Force in 1986, receiving his commission from the Air Force ROTC program at Texas State. Since then, he has logged more than 6,000 flying hours, including more than 800 combat hours in fighter aircraft. General Kelly says some of the most impactful experiences of his career include commanding a U.S. Air Force fighter squadron and three wings, along with his numerous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

For General Kelly, the appointment to general is humbling. “There are only 44 active duty 4-star generals in the entire U.S. military,” he reflects, “and it’s an incredibly talented group of officers – some truly brilliant leaders of our nation. So, just to be considered is an honor.”

At his new post, General Kelly will command the Air Force’s Air Combat Command, which is one of nine major commands in the Air Force. This command organizes, trains, and equips combat-ready units for worldwide rapid deployment and ensures the air defense of the United States. Air Combat Command is comprised of 94,000 airmen and 1,100 combat aircraft.

kelly and his wife
Lt. Gen. Mark D. Kelly and his wife, Tanya Kelly, are both Texas State alumni.

General Kelly attended Texas State specifically for the Air Force ROTC program, and was also drawn to the feeling of community the university creates. The ROTC program, he says “offered great learning and structure, as well as a clear path to serve in the military.” He fondly remembers the camaraderie he shared with the students he lived alongside in Harris Hall. Like General Kelly himself, many of these students worked to support themselves while earning their degrees, and he and says he was greatly influenced by their work ethic.

General Kelly’s wife Tanya (B.B.A. ‘84) is also a Texas State alum. The couple and their two children have been fortunate to live in many locations around the world, including Alaska, England, Australia, and Hawaii.

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922