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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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