Irish American Martin Dempsey, a retired U.S. Army general and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been made an honorary British knight.
Dempsey, who retired in September 2015 after serving 41 years in the Army, has received an honorary knighthood of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, reports Military.com.
According to a press release from the British embassy in Washington, D.C., the honor "was awarded in recognition of General Dempsey's steadfast commitment to UK-US defence cooperation," it states.
"Throughout his years in public service, he has fostered trust and understanding between the UK's Ministry of Defence and the Pentagon. His leadership has been a driving force behind closer collaboration in all aspects of policy, operations and welfare."
The press release also mentions Dempsey’s 2013 reconvening of the Combined Chiefs of Staff Conference, which was initially established to better direct U.S.-British operations during the second world war.
Sir Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the U.S., will present the award to Dempsey.
"The UK-US relationship is critical to much of the UK’s defence and security architecture, and General Dempsey has played a crucial role in maintaining the strong bonds between our two militaries," said Darroch in the release.
Dempsey said: “It was an honor to serve side by side with the extraordinary and courageous men and women of the British Armed Forces for the past 40 years in peace and in war. We 'few, we happy few' are partners by necessity, but we are friends by choice," he added, quoting a line from Shakespeare's play, "Henry V."
"I accept this honor on behalf of those who have sacrificed so much for our two countries, and I thank Her Majesty the Queen for her steadfast support for those who continue to serve and their families," Dempsey said.
Dempsey is known for being proud of his Irish Catholic heritage. The retired general speaks Gaelic, sings Irish ballads and once wrote a graduate paper on W.B. Yeats' poem, "Easter 1916" about the uprising in Ireland against British rule during World War I. A West Point graduate, he received a master’s degree in English from Duke University and taught at West Point earlier in his Army career. He and his wife Deanie have three children, all of whom served as Army officers.