Norfolk native earns JAG role

Rear Admiral Frederick J. Kenney, formerly of Norfolk, has been named judge advocate general for the Coast Guard. (Submitted photo)

NORFOLK - A town native has been named judge advocate general for the Coast Guard and chief counsel to the commandant.

Frederick J. Kenney was promoted to the rank of rear admiral Jan. 3 by Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp.

Kenney will be responsible for providing legal services in support of the Coast Guard's worldwide missions and its 50,000 personnel.

The Coast Guard's legal corps includes 186 military attorneys, 90 civilian attorneys and 156 legal support professionals.

"I am honored to have the opportunity to lead this dedicated, agile and flexible community of legal professionals," Kenney said. "Legal services have never been more vital or in demand in the Coast Guard than in the post-9/11 era."

The remarks came during his installation ceremony at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington attended by more than 200 people, including several from Norfolk.

Kenney cited last year's oil spill off the Gulf Coast of Louisiana in which JAG played a big part in by providing legal support for those affected by and responding to the spill.

His late father, Fred Kenney Sr., owned and operated the Norfolk Pharmacy in the center of town for more than 35 years. The pharmacy closed after he retired.

Kenney's mother, Joan, now lives on Cape Cod but returns to Norfolk often, a town Kenney says has a lot to do with who he is and what he's accomplished.

"I spent a lot of my time playing youth sports in Norfolk, mostly baseball and hockey," he said. "I learned a lot of solid life lessons from the many volunteer coaches in town, and I still carry those lessons with me today."

Kenney joined the Coast Guard in 1981 after graduating from Michigan State University. He received his law degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Maritime Law Journal.

Since joining the Coast Guard, he has been chief of the Office of Maritime and International Law. He also served as head of the U.S. delegation to the International Maritime Organization's Legal Committee, chief of the Coast Guard's Office of Legal Policy and Program Development, staff judge advocate for the First Coast Guard District in Boston, and Coast Guard liaison officer to the State Department's Office of Ocean Affairs.

Kenney also served as a judge on the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals.

He says he is most proud of his involvement in efforts over the years to prosecute companies responsible for dumping oil and hazardous waste into U.S. waters.

Kenney also served with several operational units. He commanded the Coast Guard's Pacific Area Tactical Law Enforcement Team that interdicted several drug smuggling operations, seizing more than 10 tons of cocaine in a three-year period, as well as intercepting hundreds of migrants attempting to illegally enter the country by sea.

Kenney's top decorations include three Legion of Merit medals, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and three Coast Guard Meritorious Service medals.

His non-military awards include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Gold Medal, the Department of State Superior Honor Award, and the Department of Justice Certificate of Commendation.

He and his wife, Cassi, live in Washington. They have two college-age daughters, Elizabeth and Charlotte.

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