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General David Petraeus kisses Jill Kelley after accepting community service award presented at Kelley General David Petraeus kisses Jill Kelley after accepting community service award presented at Kelley's home during the summer of 2011. (NY Daily News via Getty Images)  

Tampa socialite Jill Kelley was awarded Joint Chiefs’ No. 2 medal for civilians prior to Petraeus scandal

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Gregg Re
Associate Editor

Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, the unpaid social liaison to MacDill Air Force Base whose harassment complaint eventually led to the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus, last year received the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s second-highest civilian honor.

Petraeus himself presented the Joint Chiefs of Staff Award for Outstanding Public Service to Kelley in March 2011, after personally recommending her for the honor, and it was approved by then-Adm. Mike Mullen, according to The Tampa Tribune.

The award citation praised Kelley for her “outstanding public service to the United States Central Command, the MacDill Air Force Base community and the Department of Defense from October 31, 2008 to May 31, 2010.”

“Mrs. Kelley distinguished herself by exceptional service while supporting the mission of the United Central Command, building positive relationships between the military and the Tampa community, supporting community outreach, and advancing various military endeavors,” the award citation continued. “[Her] willingness to host engagements with Senior National Representatives from more than 60 countries was indicative of her support for both the Coalition’s effort and the mission of United States Central Command.”

But the “positive relationships” Kelley helped build turned out to be less than helpful for several top U.S. military commanders.

More than a year after she received the award, Kelley contacted the FBI to report anonymous harassing emails that turned out to be sent by Paula Broadwell, Petraeus’ biographer and ex-lover.

After the FBI probe publicly uncovered Petraeus’ infidelity and led to his resignation from the top job at the CIA, senior officials said the FBI had also revealed thousands of potentially inappropriate emails from top Afghanistan commander Gen. John Allen to Kelley.

Allen has stayed on the job despite the emails, which a source has described as “embarrassing.” (RELATED – This just in: Gen. Allen’s daughter is hot)

“On multiple occasions, Mrs. Kelley invited Senior National Representatives, their spouses, and senior leaders to her home to demonstrate their gratitude and support,” the award read. “These events promoted camaraderie, understanding and a better appreciation for Coalition and military customs, concerns and abilities. Her personal leadership and selfless contributions to our community generated a strong bond between our Coalition members and Tampa residents, which inspired acts of generosity and patriotism in others.”