Colonel John F. Kelliher III is a native of Hanson, Massachusetts. He graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Aerospace Studies in April 1992. Upon graduation he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and reported to The Basic School in August 1992.
Upon graduation from The Basic School in February 1993 he reported to the Naval Air Training Command in Pensacola, FL. After completing flight training with VT-3 and HT-8 he was designated a Naval Aviator in November 1994 and reported to HMT-303 in Camp Pendleton, CA to begin training in the UH-1N.
First Lieutenant Kelliher checked in with the Gunfighters of HMLA-369 in May 1995. He completed two deployments to Okinawa, Japan in 1995 and 1997. In July 1998 Captain Kelliher reported to HMT-303 to serve as a UH-1N flight instructor. In June 2000 Captain Kelliher reported to HMX-1 in Quantico, VA. At HMX-1 he completed the series conversion to fly the CH-53E, and served as a Marine One Aircraft Commander in the VH-60 and VH-3. After twelve years of service, Major Kelliher left active duty in September 2004.
In February 2008, Major Kelliher joined the Marine Corps Reserve and reported to HMLA-775 and served with the Coyotes until the “Sundown” in September 2008. Immediately following, he reported to HMLA/T-303 to stand up the Squadron Augmentation Unit and served as the first OIC. Upon the final flight of the UH-1N at HMLA/T-303 in 2011, Lieutenant Colonel Kelliher then reported to Reserve Support Unit Air Stations West at MCAS Miramar to serve as the Deployment Processing Center OIC.
In June 2011, he completed training in the UC-35D and deployed to Qatar in September 2011. He returned for a second deployment in August 2012 as the OIC of the UC-35D Det in Qatar and the UC-12W Det in Afghanistan. In December 2012 he joined VMR Belle Chasse. He completed UC-12W training in July 2013 and served as the UC-12W Program Manager.
In February 2014 he joined the Red Dogs of HMLA-773 and assumed command in May 2014. During his tour the Red Dogs successfully completed the conversion to the UH-1Y and consolidated the squadron from three site locations to two sites. After command, Colonel Kelliher reported to 4th MAW in the June 2016 and then to MAG-49 in October 2016 to serve as the Senior Reserve Advisor.
Colonel Kelliher has accumulated more than 4,500 mishap-free flight hours. His personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal and Gold Star in lieu of second award, the Air Medal with strike/flight numeral 3, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. Colonel Kelliher is authorized to wear the Presidential Service Badge.