General John R. Dailey has served to his country in one way or another for most of his life. After completing his Naval ROTC program and graduating from UCLA in 1956, Dailey joined the Marine Corps. During his 36 years of service, he flew more than 7,000 hours in a variety of aircraft and helicopters, completing two tours in Vietnam where he engaged in 450 combat missions.
In 1990, Dailey was promoted to Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, a four-star military rank. By decree, there can be only 36 four-star officers leading the entire Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Of these five branches, the Marine Corps can have only three four-star generals. As assistant commandant, Dailey was the second-highest ranking Marine in the entire Corps.
Upon his retirement from the Marines in 1992, he became the associate deputy administrator of NASA, leading the agency’s internal operations. During his seven years at NASA, he co-chaired the Aeronautics and Astronautics Coordinating Board and served on the President’s Management Council. He was also a national delegate to the Research and Technology Organization, the primary NATO branch for defense sciences and technology.
Dailey also served as the national commander of the Marine Corps Aviation Association, sponsor of the largest military Aviation Awards Program. He is a member of the Early and Pioneer Naval Aviators Association (the Golden Eagles) and a board member of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation as well.
In 2000, the general was named director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, host to many prototypes of air- and spacecraft and one of the most popular museums in the world. Under his direction, the museum has undergone a great deal of expansion.
In 2003, Dailey oversaw the opening of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, which houses the Boeing Aviation Hangar and the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar.
A native of Virginia, Dailey earned his UCLA degree in physical education.