Admiral McKee was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1929. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1951. His first duty station was in USS Marshall (DD 676) serving as a unit of Task Forces 77 and 95 during the Korean War. He completed submarine training in 1953 and went on to serve in three diesel submarines: USS Picuda (SS 382), USS Sea Cat (SS 399), and USS Marlin (SST 2), then commanded a small experimental submarine (USS X-1) in 1957. After completing Nuclear Power Training in 1958, he served as engineer, USS Skipjack (SSN 585) and as executive officer, USS Nautilus (SSN 571) and USS Sam Houston (SSBN 608).
Admiral McKee’s first shore tour came in 1964 with his assignment as a member of the staff of the Director, Naval Reactors Branch of the Atomic Energy Commission. From 1966 through 1969, he commanded USS Dace (SSN 607) – the most highly decorated ship in the Atlantic Submarine Force during that period. Staff tours in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations followed. During that period, he established the CNO Executive Panel and became its first Executive Director.
Selected for Flag rank in 1972, he served as Commander, Submarines, Mediterranean (NATO) and Submarine Forces Sixth Fleet during the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the Cyprus Conflict that followed. In 1975, he became the 48th Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy. Awarded his third star in 1978, he relieved as Commander, U.S. Third Fleet. Following that sea tour, he returned to the CNO Staff where he established the Naval Warfare Directorate in 1979 and became its first Director. Awarded a fourth star in 1982, he became the Director, Navy Nuclear Propulsion upon the occasion of Admiral H.G. Rickover’s retirement.
Admiral McKee’s personal decorations include two awards of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal and five awards of the Legion of Merit.
He retired from the Navy on 31 October 1988. Following his retirement, he served as a Director of the Entergy Corporation and the Peco Energy Company. He also served as Chairman of the Board of the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. He served as a member of the board of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. He was also a member of the Society of Cincinnati. Admiral and Mrs. McKee maintained residences in Oxford, Maryland and East Boothbay, Maine. Admiral McKee passed away on 30 December 2013.
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