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General J. H. Binford Peay III interview transcript

Identifier: MS-0539
Oral history interview transcript. This interview was conducted in August 2009 by Dr. Lewis Sorley for the U. S. Army Military History Institute Senior Officers Oral History Program.


  • 2009



1 items

Biographical / Historical

General Peay was born in Richmond, Virginia on May 10, 1940. At graduation from Virginia Military Institute in 1962, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Field Artillery, awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering, and the Institute’s prestigious Society of Cincinnati Medal. As a cadet, he was a quarterback on the football team, a member of the Honor Court, and a Battalion Commander. He holds a Master of Arts degree from George Washington University and is also a graduate of the United States Army Command and General Staff College and the United States Army War College.

General Peay's initial troop assignments were in Germany and Colorado. During two tours in the Republic of Vietnam, he performed duty as a Firing Battery Commander in the 4th Infantry Division and later as a Field Artillery Battalion Operations Officer with the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). Assigned to Hawaii in 1975, General Peay commanded the 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery, 25th Infantry Division. He then served as Senior Aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, D.C. and later as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, I Corps, and Commander, 9th Infantry Division Artillery at Fort Lewis, Washington. In 1985, he was reassigned to the Army Staff as Executive to the Chief of Staff, United States Army. From 1987-1988, he served with the Screaming Eagles as the Assistant Division Commander (Operations), 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky, followed by an assignment in July 1988 as Deputy Commandant, Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He assumed command of the 101st Airborne Division on 3 August 1989 and led the Division throughout Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM in the Persian Gulf. Promoted to Lieutenant General, he was assigned as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans, Department of the Army and Senior Army Member, United States Military Committee, United Nations, from June 1991 until March 1993. On 26 March 1993, he was promoted to the rank of General and appointed the 24th Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army. His last assignment was Commander in Chief, United States Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, from 5 August 1994 to 13 August 1997, with responsibility for the region encompassing twenty countries in Africa, the Middle East, Persian Gulf and South Asia.

Military awards and decorations that General Peay has received include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Army Distinguished Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Silver Star and Purple Heart. He wears U.S. campaign ribbons for combat duty in Vietnam, (seven campaigns) and Saudi Arabia (three campaigns) and has received foreign awards from Vietnam, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

General Peay became VMI's 14th Superintendent in 2003.

Physical Location

Manuscripts stacks

Related Materials

Additional interviews conducted by VMI cadets are available online in our Oral History Digital Collection.


Repository Details

Part of the Virginia Military Institute Archives Repository

VMI Archives
Preston Library
Lexington VA 24450