Jill Kelley honoured by Petraeus for 'selfless' party-throwing

Joint Chiefs of Staff medal was awarded to Tampa socialite in 2011 for 'promoting camaraderie'

LAST UPDATED AT 09:39 ON Fri 23 Nov 2012

AMERICANS were given some unexpected Thanksgiving entertainment yesterday with the news that Jill Kelley, the 37-year-old Florida socialite involved in the David Petraeus scandal, was awarded one of the country's highest civilian honours last year for throwing lavish parties at her waterfront mansion in Tampa.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff Award for Outstanding Public Service, which comes with a silver medal, a citation and a mauve-and-white ribbon, was awarded in recognition of Kelley's "selfless contributions" and "willingness to host engagements" for senior politicians and military top brass.

As the New York Post reported, the "military schmoozer's" honour was awarded on the recommendation of none other than Gen Petraeus – who took it upon himself to confer the award personally at one of Kelley's famous champagne and caviar parties.

"These events promoted camaraderie, understanding and a better appreciation for coalition and military customs, concerns and abilities," her citation noted.

Kelley was thanked in particular for helping Petraeus when he first took command of Tampa's US Central Command - or CentCom – in 2008. "She [was] instrumental in introducing the commander, early in his tenure, to local and state officials, particularly the mayor of Tampa and the governor of Florida.

"The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Mrs. Jill Kelley are in keeping with the finest traditions of public service and reflect great credit upon herself, United States Central Command and the Department of Defense."

Or as the New York Post put it, "They'll give a medal to anyone".

News of the award emerged a fortnight after Petraeus stood down as CIA chief because of his affair with Paula Broadwell – an affair exposed when Jill Kelley complained of harassing emails from Broadwell.

As for the other general involved in the saga, Gen John Allen, the alleged sender of up to 30,000 "inappropriate" emails to the fragrant Mrs Kelley, he has returned to his post in charge of Nato forces in Afghanistan - but his nomination to lead US European Command has been put on hold. · 

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The Military is a large and complex society. Not everybody can just bring their sniping and tank driving talents to the party. I think they are very grateful for people who act as enablers in organising to add a third dimension to their lives and create an environment that helps keep morale high.

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