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Major General Louis J. Conti served as Chairman of the Reserve Forces Policy Board from 1977 – 1985.
General Conti was born on November 28, 1919 in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated from Cornell University in June 1941. While attending Cornell, he played guard on the outstanding Cornell football teams in the 1938-1940 seasons. He also participated in the famous "5th down" game in 1940 between Cornell and Dartmouth where Cornell lost by forfeit. He was selected to play in the 1941 East-West Game.
His military career commenced in August 1941, when he enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve as a Seaman, Second Class. From this period until the end of World War II, he joined Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 243 (VMSB 243), Goleta, CA, in January 1943 and went with that squadron to Ewa, Oahu, Hawaii, in February. During combat operation he was attached to the following: Marine Fighter Squadron 211 and Headquarters Squadron, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, Base Defense Wing (VMSB 236), serving on Palmyra from March to July, 1943, Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 236, as a pilot and material officer of these squadrons at Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, Guadalcanal, Munda, Bougainville, and Green Island in the Solomon Islands. He participated as a dive bomber pilot in four campaigns during this period. In May of 1944 he returned to the United States and joined Marine Photographic Squadron 354 until March 1945 when he returned to the Central Pacific with this Unit and was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 24 on Guam in the Marianas. He was then assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing on Okinawa as commanding officer of the photo detachment in support of air operations on Okinawa and photo missions over Japan. In March 1949, General Conti resigned from the Regular Marine Corps to accept a position on the Football Staff at Cornell University, and at the same time he accepted a Reserve Commission in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. He then joined Marine Fighter Squadron 441 (VMF 441), Marine Air Reserve Training Command, Niagara Falls, NY, as its executive officer. From August 1952 until April 1953, he served as operations and executive officer of Marine Photographic Squadron 1 (VMJ-1), Marine Aircraft Group 33, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Korea, completing 102 combat missions.
In 1956 he resigned from Cornell University to accept a position with General American Transportation Company (GATX) in Chicago. He was elected a Vice President of the corporation in 1967, director in 1969, President of GATX Terminals Corporation in 1975, and Sr. Vice President of GATX Corporation in 1976. GATX spun off Marine Transport Lines (MTL) in 1983. He took on the role of Chairman and CEO of this new company until his retirement in April, 1985. While serving on the GATX and MTL Board of Directors, he served as a Director for Emerson Electric Company, Roadmaster Corporation, Roadmaster Industries, Inc., and ESCO Electronics Corporation. He was inducted into the Cornell University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1983. He was inducted as Cornell University's honoree into the Ivy Football Association in 2007.
While furthering his civilian career, General Conti continued to be active with the USMCR. In 1958, he participated in the formation of the first Marine Air Reserve Group at Glenview, IL and served as its commanding officer through 1960. He subsequently served as Commanding Officer, Headquarters, Marine Air Reserve Training (Reserve) from 1962 until 1964. After his elevation to Major General in 1973, he was reassigned as Assistant Director, Marine Corps Reserve. He then became a special assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff for I&L at Headquarters Marine Corps. He was President of the Marine Corps Reserve Policy Board from 1974-75. He was also appointed to the Reserve Forces Policy Board in March of 1974. In 1977, he was appointed by the Secretary of Defense as the civilian Chairman of the Reserve Policy Board and served until 1985 in this capacity.
In addition to the Distinguished Flying Cross and five Air Medals, he received the Presidential Unit Citation, the Navy Unit Commendation, the American Defense Service Medal, the American Campaign, Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with one silver star in lieu of five bronze stars, the World War II Victory Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal with three bronze stars, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the Organized Marine Corps Reserve Medal, the Marine Corps Reserve Ribbon, the United Nations Service Medal, and the Korean Presidential Unit Citation.
General Louis Conti passed away peacefully at home on February 14, 2014. He was preceded in death by his wife of 69 years, the former Miss Dorothy Kellogg of Utica, New York who passed away on January 30, 2014. He is survived by five children: Paul L., Bruce A., Barbara A., Suzanne M. Saint Germain, and Michael S. A son, 1st Lieutenant Robert F. Conti, USMCR, was killed in the Vietnam War in November 1969. Major General Conti has ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.