Admiral James Milton Loy was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania on 10 August 1942. He entered the Coast Guard Academy in 1960. Graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in General Engineering, he was commissioned an Ensign in 1964. He commanded four Coast Guard cutters including the Point Lomas on combat patrols in Vietnam; CGC Valiant, homeported in Galveston, Texas; and CGC Midgett, homeported in San Francisco, California. He has also served in flag assignments as Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District, New Orleans, Louisiana and as Chief, Office of Personnel and Training at Coast Guard Headquarters.
Prior to becoming Commandant, Admiral Loy served as the Coast Guard Chief of Staff from 1996-98, during which time he redesigned the headquarters management structure and overhauled the Coast Guard planning and budgeting process to focus more sharply on performance and results. From 1994-96, he was Commander of the Coast Guard’s Atlantic Area, commanding U.S. forces during the mass Haitian and Cuban migrations of 1994 and Coast Guard forces participating in Operation Restore Democracy. His other flag assignments were as Chief of Personnel and Training, and Commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District.
He became Commandant of the Coast Guard in May, 1998 and served through May 2002. Admiral Loy focused his leadership during his tenure on restoring Coast Guard readiness and shaping the future of the the nation's oldest continuous sea-going service. Although both themes involved many initiatives, the most visible expression of restoring readiness was rebuilding the workforce to authorized levels, improving retention and managing the operational tempo of the service. The most important element of shaping the future was probably his oversight and leadership in the Integrated Deepwater System acquisition project, which was the overall plan to modernize the ships, aircraft, and sensors that the Coast Guard utilizes to perform its many missions.
Admiral Loy attended postgraduate school at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, Rhode Island earning Masters degrees in History/Government and Public Administration. He attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort Leslie J. McNair in Washington, DC. He was also an intern at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
He has received the Department of Transportation Distinguished Service Medal, four Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medals, the Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legion of Merit awards, the Bronze Star with Combat “V,” the Meritorious Service Medal, five Coast Guard Commendation Medals, the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, and other unit and campaign awards.
Admiral Loy has been recognized by the American Society of Public Administration and Government Executive with their Leadership Award for 2001. He was named SEATRADE Personality of 2000 in London, UK; has received the NAACP Meritorious Service Award for 2000 and was recognized by the Soldier's, Sailor's, Marine's and Airmen's Club with their Military Leadership Award for 2001.
He retired from the Coast Guard on 30 May 2002 and was immediately appointed to the newly created post of Deputy Under Secretary for Transportation Security and Chief Operating Officer of the Transportation Security Administration by Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta.
Admiral Loy is married to the former Kay McGirk.