Rear Admiral John Kirby grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida. He is a 1985 graduate of the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in History. He holds a Master of Science degree in International Relations from Troy State University and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.
He was commissioned in September 1986 after completing Officer Candidate School at Newport, Rhode Island.
Kirby qualified as a surface warfare officer aboard the guided-missile frigate USS Aubrey Fitch (FFG 34). As a public affairs officer, Kirby served at sea aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CV 59) and on the staff of the Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet, embarked aboard the command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20).
While ashore, Kirby completed tours as an instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy; public affairs officer with the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron (Blue Angels); editor-in-chief of the Navy's Flagship monthly magazine, All Hands; the staffs of the chief of naval personnel, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, chief of naval operations, and the special assistant for public affairs to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His most recent assignment was serving as the deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for Media Operations.
Rear Adm. Kirby served as the U.S. Navy's chief of information, serving as the principal spokesman for the Department of the Navy and providing strategic communication counsel to the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations. As CHINFO, he led the Navy's public affairs community consisting of more than 2,700 active and reserve officer, enlisted and civilian communication professionals.
Currently, Kirby is the Pentagon Press Secretary, serving as the chief spokesman for the Department of Defense.
Kirby has been awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (four awards), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, as well as various campaign and service awards.