Welcome to the memorial page for

John R. D. Cleland

July 5, 1925 ~ October 25, 2017 (age 92)
Obituary Image

Major General John R. D. Cleland retired from the United States Army in 1980, after thirty-seven years of active service.  He enlisted at the age of seventeen and, after service as an enlisted man, was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant of Infantry from the Infantry Officer Candidate School.  He has commanded all levels of Infantry units from the Rifle Squad to the Mechanized Infantry Division.  He fought as a Parachute Infantry unit commander in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.  He has been a commander, staff officer, service school instructor, State Department Officer, overseas Military Advisory Group Chief and Director of US Army Security Assistance during his military service.  General Cleland served on the Army General staff and the Joint Staff during peace and war.  He spent thirteen years overseas, six years of which were in a combat theater.


General Cleland was a Master Parachutist and was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge in three wars.  His decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Silver Star Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters and the Purple Heart Medal with oak leaf cluster.  General Cleland was a member of the US Army Infantry Hall of Fame and served as the Honorary Colonel of his Korean War Regiment.


General Cleland achieved a Bachelor of General Education degree from Omaha University and a Master of Science degree in Foreign Relations from George Washington University.  He also graduated from the US Army War College.  He completed the Harvard University Program for Senior Managers in Government and was a member of Phi Alpha Theta, the National Honor Society in History.


Upon retiring from the US Army, General Cleland worked as a Defense Analyst and a consultant to private industry for twenty years.  He was a resident of Melbourne, Florida.  General Cleland was active in the civilian community, serving on the boards of a number of national and local institutions.  He also served as Commodore of the Eau Gallie Yacht Club and Senior Warden of Holy Apostles Episcopal Church.


General Cleland was married to the former Clara Webster Kehoe of Bealeton, Virginia.  They first met during the Korean War when the then Captain Cleland was wounded and evacuated to the 1st Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (M.A.S.H.) in Chechon, Korea, where 1st Lieutenant Clara Kehoe was the Receiving Ward Nurse.  They met again eight months later when Lieutenant Kehoe was assigned to Ward 1 at Walter Reed Army Hospital where Captain Cleland was a patient.


General Cleland is survived by his sister, Rita Stephens; his wife, Clara; their five children:  Bruce (Rebecca), Robin (Joe), Gary (Michelle), Jack (Mary) and William (Mary Beth); their ten grandchildren:  Amanda, Andi (Kortney), Kathryn, Emily, Garrett, Ellen, Madeline, Patrick, Will and Carolina; and their two great-grandchildren:  Jorden and Savannah.


A Celebration of Life will be held at 11:00 A.M., Saturday, November 4, 2017 at the Freedom Christian Center, 7250 Lake Andrews Drive, Melbourne, Florida 32940. A reception will follow the service at the Indian River Colony Club. Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery with Full Military Honors at a later date.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in John’s name to Prince of Peace Anglican Church at; MOAACC Scholarship Fund at P.O. Box 254708, Patrick AFB, FL 32925-4708; MOAACC Good Deeds Fund at P.O. Box 254186, Patrick AFB, FL 32925-4186 (or at; and/or the Florida Wildlife Hospital & Sanctuary at

 Service Information

Funeral Service
November 4, 2017

11:00 AM
Freedom Christian Church
7250 Lake Andrews Drive
Melbourne, FL 32940

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