Major General Joseph P Cleland, Kemper’s fifth President, was a distinguished soldier who, in his 30 years of active army service, gained wide recognition for his outstanding record. MG Cleland attended Kemper from 1918-1921. After receiving his commission as a second lieutenant (infantry) following graduation from West Point, Cleland served with the 17th infantry and later entered tank school at Fort Meade. He also served with the 45th infantry in the Philippines and at Camp John Hays in the Philippines. Later, Cleland commanded the 43rd Infantry Division in the Southwest Pacific.
After WWII General Cleland was appointed the military attaché to Chile and also assumed instructor status at the US Army Command & General Staff College. Many Kemper cadets recall the General from early days when he was the Professor of Military Science at Kemper from 1936-1938. General Cleland commanded the 504th Parachute Regiment and later was deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Soldier’s Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Master Parachutists Badge, and Glider Badge among other awards.
Upon the retirement of Colonel H.C. Johnston as President and Superintendent of Kemper Military School, Cleland stepped forward to lead the school until a successor could be found. His careful guiding hand, wisdom, and strength of character won admiration and supporters from every heart Kemper touched.