A Brief Biography of

1st Lieutenant William Nessler McKelvy, Sr., U.S.M.C.

Contributed by Robert Pendleton
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 1st Lieutenant William Nessler McKelvy, Sr., was one of two platoon leaders of Company F (Artillery), First Marine Battalion (Reinforced). The company which saw action in Cuba during the war, was commanded by Captain Francis H. Harrington.

The Biography:

 William Nessler McKelvy, Sr., was born in Pennsylvania on July 15, 1869. He was appointed from Pennsylvania to the United States Naval Academy on  May 20, 1887 and graduated in the Class of 1891. As a naval cadet he served at sea aboard the U.S.S. KEARSARGE (North Atlantic Station), 1891-1892 and the U.S.S. PHILADELPHIA (North Atlantic Station), from 1892 to 1893. Upon completing the required two years of sea duty he was commissioned Second Lieutenant of Marines on July 1, 1893.

2nd Lt. McKelvy was assigned to Marine Barracks, Navy Yard, Washington, District of Columbia, from January 1 to June 30, 1894, followed by service at the Marine Barracks, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine, from July 1, 1894 to June 30, 1895. From there, he served aboard U.S.S. BALTIMORE (Asiatic Station), from July 1 to December 31 1895 and U.S.S. OLYMPIA (Asiatic Station), from January 1, 1896 to December 31, 1897. McKelvy was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on June 20, 1897.

McKelvey was transferred to Marine Barracks, Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York City, New York, on January 1, 1898 where he served until April 22, 1898 and then to the First Marine Battalion (Reinforced), Company F (Artillery) where he served from  April 22 to September 21, 1898. McKelvy was brevetted captain for distinguished conduct and public service in the presence of the enemy on June 11, 12, and 13, 1898 at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

After the war, he was reassigned to Marine Barracks, Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York City, New York, where he served from January 1, 1899 to  June 30, 1900. While serving at the Marine Barracks, he was promoted to captain on March 3, 1899. Later, he served aboard U.S.S.Kentucky (North Atlantic Station), from July 1 to December 31, 1900; Marine Barracks, Cavite, Philippine Islands (January 1 to July 1, 1901), Marine Barracks, Guam, Ladrone Islands (July 1, 1901 to June 30, 1903), Marine Barracks, League Island Navy Yard, League Island, Pennsylvania (July 1 to December 31, 1903), Marine Barracks, Port Royal, South Carolina, (January 1 to December 31, 1904), Camp Elliott, Empire Camp, Isthmus of Panama (January 1 to June 30, 1905) and Marine Battalion Yankee, Isthmus of Panama (July 1, 1905 to December 31, 1906).

On June 16, 1906, McKelvy was promoted to major and served as commander of Marine Battalion Yankee, Isthmus of Panama from July 1 to December 31, 1906.

McKelvy was assigned to the Navy War College (Ordinance) Newport, Rhode Island, January 1 to July 1, 1907, joining the college staff on July 1, 1907 and serving into 1908. Later, Maj. McKelvy was transferred to the First Marine Brigade, Philippine Islands (1909 to 1910), Recruiting Office and Central Recruiting Division, Chicago, Illinois (1912 to 1914) and commanded the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment and Marine Barracks, San Diego, California from 1915 to 1916. On August, 29, 1916, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. While being treated at the Naval Hospital, Washington, District of Columbia, from 1917 to 1918 he was promoted to colonel on March 26, 1917.

Colonel McKelvy commanded the 4th Marine Regiment, 2nd Provisional Marine Brigade (1919), the Marine Barracks, Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia (1920 to 1922) and in 1923 was assigned to the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. Prior to his retirement on July 15, 1925 he commanded the First Marine Brigade in Haiti (1924 to 1925)."

Col. McKelvy died on September 22, 1933 at his residence in Washington, District of Columbia.


Muster Rolls, First Marine Battalion (Reinforced), Company F (Artillery), Camp McCalla, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, June 1898

Special Collections and Archives Division, Nimitz Library, United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland.

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