Analysis & Opinions - The Boston Globe

Last Year, He was the Country’s Top Military Officer. Now, He is Retired on the South Shore.

| Sep. 06, 2020

Joe Dunford wore the Marine Corps uniform for 42 years, but the retired four-star general has swapped the battle space in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as political skirmishes in Washington, for a South Shore home a block from the ocean.

He and his wife attend Sunday Mass from their car as protection during the pandemic, and Dunford laughs as he says that he checks the Sharktivity app to monitor the location of any Great Whites patrolling the beaches.

The change is as dramatic as they come.

Last year, Dunford was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the country’s highest-ranking military officer, amid the turmoil of the Trump administration. Today, the 64-year-old native of South Boston and Quincy is adjusting to civilian life for the first time since college, a trim man sitting on his outdoor deck in an open-neck shirt and smiling at how once again — in what must seem like forever — he can get a good night’s sleep.

“I’m pretty happy, and my wife is happy that I’m not underfoot,” said Dunford, a graduate of Boston College High School and St. Michael’s College in Vermont. “We always wanted to come back home, and we’ve just kind of blended into the scenery.”

Dunford and his wife, Ellyn, have three children, and he checks in regularly on his mother and father, a Marine veteran of the Korean War who served 40 years with the Boston police and rose to deputy superintendent. Still, blending into the scenery has a different meaning for Dunford than it does for most retirees.

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For Academic Citation:Last Year, He was the Country’s Top Military Officer. Now, He is Retired on the South Shore..” The Boston Globe, September 6, 2020.