Rear Admiral [Ret.] James J. Carey

James J. Carey – Omega Chapter – Northwestern University, 1960

Navy Admiral, Federal Agency Chairman, Elected Leader of Military Admirals and Generals.  Phi Alpha CXXIV.

Photo of James J. Carey.

Jim grew up in a small town in central Wisconsin, where he was President of his High School Senior Class of 1956, lettered in 3 varsity sports, and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. He attended Northwestern University, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration [Marketing] in 1960. He was an Interfraternity Council leader at Northwestern and was elected Phi of the Omega Chapter of Zeta Psi in his final year. Upon graduation in 1960, Jim’s first job was in Chicago, soon to be interrupted with the news that he was soon to be drafted into the Army. He joined the U.S. Navy the following week, attended Officers Candidate School in Newport, RI from April-August 1962 and was then commissioned an ENSIGN and assigned to USS TOPEKA [CLG-8]. Duty aboard TOPEKA in Vietnam followed with further details in his Legacy Project video linked below.

Photo of James J. Carey.

In the late 1960s, as his Navy career swiftly progressed, Jim decided it was time to “give back to Zeta Psi” and he began service as a Regional Director for 8 chapters, visiting them each once a year and advising and counseling to help them grow and succeed. He was invited to join the Zeta Psi International Board of Directors in the 1970s where he served for over a quarter century and held every elected office except Gamma Alpha. He received every Grand Chapter Award that Zeta Psi provides, culminating with his reception of the Distinguished Service Award in 2001.  Jim was elected Phi Alpha CXXIV in 1995 and served as Zeta Psi’s Chief Executive Officer until 1997. The Grand Chapter of Zeta Psi Rear Admiral JamesJ. Carey Leadership Award is named in his honor.


Jim is listed three times in the Notable Zetes section of this website, Phi Alpha, Government and Humanitarian.

His accomplishments in the US Military include:

  • Thirty-three years of service as a U.S. Naval Officer, including service in Vietnam and during Operation DESERT STORM in Iraq, rising to the rank of Rear Admiral;
  • Commanding Officer of 7 different units; Commanding Admiral of 10,500 men and women of Readiness Command Region SIX at the Washington Navy Yard during Operation DESERT STORM (selected as # 1 Readiness Command in the nation);
  • Four awards of the Legion of Merit;
  • Twelve years of service as the elected Chairman of The Flag & General Officers’ Network, the organization for U.S. Admirals and Generals of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.  Appointed National Chairman Emeritus for Life upon retirement in 2018.

His accomplishments in the US Government include:

    • Appointment by President Reagan in 1981 as Commissioner of the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission.  Elected Vice Chairman of the Commission in 1983; appointed by President George H. W. Bush as Chairman in 1989.
    • Seven years of service as elected National President of the Reagan Administration’s Senate-Confirmed Presidential Appointees Organization, including in its membership Cabinet Members, Service Secretaries and Agency Heads.
    •  Member of the Board of Directors for the Reagan Administration Alumni Association.

His accomplishments as a Humanitarian include:

  • Former World Chairman [Chairman of the Board] of the Knights Templar, a 20-nation Humanitarian Order recognized for its humanitarian work by the United Nations.  During his tenure, Jim personally coordinated with the United Nations for humanitarian aid in various nations, and was recognized and awarded “Special Consultative Status” by the United Nations.  He is also a past Chairman of the Good Samaritans of the Knights Templar Foundation, focused on humanitarian good works in the USA.
  • Recognized by The George Washington Estate at Mount Vernon for charitable work with THE LIFE GUARD, the George Washington Estates at Mount Vernon charitable body named after George Washington’s Security Guard during the Revolutionary War.
  • Chairman of the Washington Scholars Internship Program, dedicated to providing college-age young men and women with on-the-job training and experience in USA national
    agencies with a view towards credentialing them for a career of service to the nation.

Further details on Jim’s life and career path and how it all interweaves with Zeta Psi are discussed in detail in his Zeta Psi Legacy Project video embedded below. Jim’s steady and constant advice to all in Zeta Psi has been “you will get out of Zeta Psi in direct proportion to what you put into Zeta Psi”. Good advice for all Zetes, both present and future, to live by.


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