Former NYPD Commissioner and Vietnam vet Ray Kelly to be honored by the Museum of American Armor

(Old Bethpage, N.Y) The Museum of American Armor at Old Bethpage Village Restoration has announced that former New York City Police Commissioner and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Ray Kelly will be presented with the museum’s Military Heritage Award during this year’s gala dinner to be held at the museum on November 16th.

Museum founder and president, Lawrence Kadish stated, “This year’s honoree was obvious to our nominating committee. Ray Kelly personifies American exceptionalism. From his leadership as a Marine to serving as America’s premier police commissioner, his extraordinary career is an inspiration to us, and countless Americans.”

Mr. Kelly was the longest serving Commissioner of the New York City Police Department in its history and rose from cadet to the department’s top job during his 47 years on the force. The Commissioner is a combat veteran of the Vietnam War. He led fellow Marines as a First Lieutenant including the bloody, chaotic battles of Operation Harvest Moon that broke the back of a Viet Cong offensive south of Da Nang.  Upon returning home, Commissioner Kelly joined the Marine Reserves and retired with the rank of Colonel.  He is currently vice chairman of K2 Security and serves on the Museum board.

He also has served as commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service, where he managed the agency’s 20,000 employees and $20 billion in annual revenue. For his accomplishments at Customs, Commissioner Kelly was awarded the Alexander Hamilton Medal for Exceptional Service. From 1996 to 1998, Commissioner Kelly was undersecretary for enforcement at the U.S. Treasury Department (the third highest post in the department at the time). There, he supervised the department’s enforcement bureaus including the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

Reflecting on his life in law enforcement, he is the author of the bestselling book, “Vigilance: My Life Serving America and Protecting its Empire City.”

Integrity, Professionalism and Vision

Gala Dinner co-chairman, former U.S. Senator Alfonse D’Amato stated, “I have had the honor of knowing Ray Kelly for over forty years and during that time his reputation as a man of enormous personal integrity and professional expertise has only grown here and around the world. He has defended our freedoms abroad and our neighborhoods here in the greatest city in the world. This award is recognition that this insightful, effective law enforcement and security expert has not only walked the beat but defended our nation as well.”

Mr. Kelly explained, “I accept this honor with the understanding that I am representing the hundreds of thousands of Americans who served in Vietnam during that conflict and those men and women who continue to serve in our military today. My experience was not unique, but the courage and valor of those I served with certainly was.”

Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano welcomed the announcement. “The Museum of American Armor could not have a better ally than Ray Kelly. I look forward to attending this gala dinner, a fitting tribute to an extraordinary patriot in a setting that speaks to the valor of every American who has served our country.”

Fellow dinner co-chairman Michael Sapraicone, president of Squad Security, observed, “As a former First Grade NYPD Detective, I can tell you from personal and professional experience that Ray Kelly had a profound impact on everyone touched by his tenure. He has raised the bar for all.”

A career in law enforcement

With fifty years in public service, including 14 years as police commissioner of the City of New York, Raymond W. Kelly is one of the world’s most well-known and highly esteemed leaders in law enforcement. Kelly was appointed police commissioner in January 2002 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, making Kelly the longest serving police commissioner in the city’s history, as well as the first to hold the post for a second, separate tenure. He also served as police commissioner under Mayor David N. Dinkins from 1992 to 1994.

In 2002, Commissioner Kelly created the first counterterrorism bureau of any municipal police department in the country. He also established a new global intelligence program and stationed New York City detectives in 11 foreign cities. In addition to dedicating extensive resources to preventing another terrorist attack, the NYPD had driven violent crime down by 40 percent from 2001 levels.

Commissioner Kelly holds a BBA from Manhattan College, a JD from St. John’s University School of Law, an LLM from New York University Graduate School of Law, and an MPA from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He has been awarded honorary degrees from the Catholic University of America, Manhattan College, St. John’s University, the State University of New York, the College of St. Rose, Iona College, Marist College, New York University, Pace University, Quinnipiac University, and St. Thomas Aquinas College.

Those wishing to join the Museum of American Armor in honoring Ray Kelly are invited to contact the museum through its web site,