Award Recipient

General J. H. Binford Peay III

Awarded: Distinguished Achievement Award – August 11, 2023

General Peay, is a distinguished and highly accomplished military leader, whose name is synonymous with excellence and valor in the U.S. Armed Forces. With a storied career spanning several decades, General Peay has demonstrated unparalleled dedication to duty, steadfast leadership, and a remarkable commitment to the service of his nation.

In his youth, General Peay was a distinguished Eagle Scout, a scholar and an athlete. Peay received a degree in civil engineering and the prestigious Society of Cincinnati Medal at his graduation from VMI in 1962. While at VMI he was a quarterback of the Keydet football team, member of the Honor Court, and a battalion commander. Upon his graduation, he was initiated.

General Peay was first commissioned in 1962 in Field Artillery, initially assigned to Germany and Fort Carson, Colorado. He served two tours in Vietnam, including as assistant operations officer, and operations officer, for the 3rd Brigade, 1st Calvary Division. Among further assignments, he served as Senior Aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Executive to the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, as a Screaming Eagle becoming the Assistant Division Commander (operations) of the 101st Airborne Division. After a stint as Deputy Commandant, for the Command and General Staff College, he returned to Fort Campbell and assumed command of the 101st Airborne Division, and led that division through Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf, known as the first gulf war. After being promoted to Lieutenant General, he was the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans, and Senior Army Member, United States Military Committee. He was promoted to General on active duty on March 26, 1993. He also served as the 24th Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army from 1993 to 1994.

He served with distinction as the Commander of the United States Central Command (known as CENTCOM), stationed here in Florida, from 1994 to 1997. This pivotal role placed him at the forefront of America’s military operations in one of the most critical and complex regions in the world.

As the CENTCOM Commander, General Peay demonstrated an unwavering commitment to both national security and regional stability. With a keen understanding of the intricate political and strategic dynamics in the Middle East and Central Asia, he navigated the complexities of the region with finesse and tact, earning the trust and respect of allies and partners.

Under his astute leadership, General Peay fostered strong international partnerships, facilitating joint operations and intelligence sharing that bolstered the fight against terrorism and extremist threats. His emphasis on cooperation and collaboration strengthened the regional security architecture and contributed significantly to the overall success of U.S. and coalition efforts. General J.H. Binford Peay III’s tenure at CENTCOM stands as a testament to his visionary leadership and strategic acumen.

During his career, General Peay also served with distinction as the 14th Superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) from 2003 to 2020. As the leader of this prestigious institution, he brought his unparalleled military expertise and unwavering commitment to education to foster a culture of excellence and honor.

During his tenure as Superintendent, General Peay worked tirelessly to strengthen VMI’s reputation as a premier military college. He championed academic rigor, instilling a strong sense of discipline, and emphasized the importance of character development among the cadets. Under his leadership, VMI continued to produce outstanding graduates who went on to serve their country with distinction in various fields.

General Peay’s vision for VMI extended beyond its campus borders. He actively engaged with alumni, the local community, and stakeholders to forge lasting partnerships that would enrich the institution’s resources and opportunities. The Institute celebrated many successes during Peay’s years as superintendent, including improved academic and co-curricular programs, major renovations of many buildings, and the construction of Third Barracks, Marshall Hall, and the Corps Physical Training Facility. During his tenure he was dedicated to an environment of excellence where cadets were provided countless opportunities to develop traits of successful leadership—honor, respect, civility, self-discipline, and professionalism.

In recognition of his service and leadership an upcoming leadership development building was named in his honor—an extension of the Center for Leadership and Ethics, which he established—to be known as Peay Hall. He was also named Superintendent Emeritus, and on November 11, 2022, was awarded the Institute’s highest honor by the Board of Visitors, the New Market Medal.

For his service to our Nation, the U.S. Army, and to the Virginia Military Institute, and in recognition of our deep appreciation for his loyalty and belief in Kappa Alpha Order, C. Douglas Simmons III was proud to present the 20th Award for Distinguished Achievement to General J. H. Binford Peay III.

Video of Peay’s Address to the Convention