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Fred Keith Mahaffey was a United States Army four star general who served as Commander in Chief, United States Readiness Command (USCINCRED) from 1985 to 1986. Considered a rising star in the Army, his career was cut short by cancer.

Military career

Mahaffey was born on January 4, 1934 in Clovis, New Mexicomarker. He graduated from the University of Denvermarker in 1955 and was commissioned upon graduation. and earned as masters degree in International Affairs at George Washington Universitymarker.

He commanded a battalion in the 9th Infantry Division during the Vietnam War. In 1975 he assumed command the 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division. He was succeeded in command of the 2nd Brigade by a fellow future four-star general, then-Colonel Colin Powell. He also commanded the 3rd Infantry Division from 1981 to 1983.

Mahaffey's other assignments included Division Operations Officer for the 101st Airborne Division, Assistant Commandant of the United States Army Infantry School; Deputy Commanding General of the Combined Arms Combat Development Activity; and Deputy Chief of Staff for operations for the Army.

Mahaffey was promoted to four star rank in 1985 at the age of 51, making him one of the youngest four star generals ever.

Death and burial

Diagnosed with cancer while on active duty, he died at Walter Reed Army Medical Centermarker on October 13, 1986 at the age of 52. Mahaffey was buried in Arlington National Cemeterymarker. He was survived by his wife, the former Jane Garrett, and four daughters; Lorrie, Selene,Julie, and Melissa. A memorial to him can be found engraved in stone in Carlsbad Beach in Carlsbad, NM, where Mahaffey lived and the hometown of his widow Jane Mahaffey.


On May 16, 1989, the headquarters building of the 3rd Infantry Division was dedicated in his honor. He was posthumously inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame. Mahaffey was also inducted posthumously into the University of Denver Athletic Hall of Fame.

Awards and decorations

His awards and decorations included the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star with three oak leaf clusters, and the Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters.

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