Rep. Trent Kelly Becomes Highest-Ranking Military Member in Congress

Maj. Gen. Kelly at his promotion ceremony at the Mississippi Army National Guard headquarters.
Maj. Gen. Janson Boyles, Adjutant General for the Mississippi National Guard, left, and Shelia Kelly, right, wife of Rep. John "Trent" Kelly, R-Miss., pin a set of major general stars on the jacket of now Maj. Gen. Kelly, during his promotion ceremony at the Mississippi Army National Guard headquarters, Dec. 5, 2020, in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

This month, Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Mississippi, pinned on a second star and became the highest-ranking currently serving military member in Congress.

Kelly, a member of the Mississippi National Guard, was promoted Saturday to the rank of major general and named the assistant adjutant general for the state's Army National Guard, the Tupelo Daily Journal reported.

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A member of the House Armed Services and Agriculture committees, Kelly has served in Congress since winning a special election in 2015. As a member of the National Guard, he has missed votes in the last two years while on military duty, according to the Congressional Record.

"Trent Kelly is no stranger to service," Gov. Tate Reeves said at the ceremony. "It's been his life. That's right, his life has been about service to others."

An engineer and combat veteran, Kelly served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and deployed to Iraq in 2005 as operations officer for the 150th Engineer Battalion. He returned to Iraq again in 2009 as battalion commander for Task Force Knight, 155th Brigade Combat Team.

His awards include two Bronze Stars and the Combat Action Badge.

Kelly is one of 91 veterans expected to serve in the next Congress and is one of six National Guard members to serve in the House of Representatives.

  • Wisconsin Air National Guard, Lt. Col. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.
  • Mississippi Army National Guard, Sgt. Steven M. Palazzo, R-Miss.
  • Ohio Army National Guard Brig Gen. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio
  • South Carolina Air National Guard First Lt. William Timmons IV, R-S.C.
  • Maryland Army National Guard Lt. Col. Michael Waltz, R-Fla.

According to the Tupelo Daily Journal, Kelly said after his promotion that his military service is significant to him.

"Serving this great state, serving this great nation in uniform means more to me than what I can do as a civilian," Kelly said.

While Kelly is the highest-ranking active military member in Congress, there is one higher-ranking veteran lawmaker: Michigan Rep. Jack Bergman is a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general.

-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime

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