ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Gen. Craig R. McKinley spent the past 14 years serving in the nation’s capital, but he came back home to Northeast Florida Friday to celebrate his nearly 40-year military career with the people he served with the longest.
Flanked by his friends, family and peers, McKinley received the Governor’s Medal of Merit from Florida Governor Rick Scott at the St. Francis Barracks in St. Augustine.
McKinley joined the Florida National Guard in 1980 as a T-23 and F-106 alert pilot and has served numerous assignments in flying and operations ever since.
McKinley made history after becoming the first National Guardsman to serve as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“It’s a tough day, it’s a bittersweet moment,” said McKinley. “But all of us know when we put on the uniform there will come a day when we have to say goodbye. Today’s that day for me and I couldn’t have been more proud to be here.”