Rear Admiral McClelland was commissioned through OCS in January 1966 after graduating from Tufts University and was then assigned to the icebreaker USCGC WESTWIND during which time he also qualified as a Ship Salvage Diving Officer.
Following his tour in WESTWIND he was assigned to the Underwater Safety Project in the Office of Merchant Marine Safety at Coast Guard Headquarters and was tasked with developing the Coast Guard diving program. During that time, he served as diving safety officer, and a watch director during the TEKTITE I habitat project in Great Lameshur Bay, U.S. Virgin Islands. After receiving a Master of Science degree in Physical Oceanography from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA he was Operations Officer and Diving Officer in the icebreaker CGC GLACIER. As Administration Officer and field party chief at the Coast Guard Oceanographic Unit at the Washington Navy Yard, he also qualified as a Helium-Oxygen Diving Officer. He remained in Washington having been assigned to the Environmental Coordination Branch in the Marine Environmental Protection Division at Coast Guard Headquarters.
After a command tour in the Coast Guard oceanographic ship, CGC EVERGREEN, he was assigned to Atlantic Area as Commander, International Ice Patrol, and Supervisor for the Atlantic and Gulf Strike Teams. He then was XO, CGC POLAR SEA, served as Planning Officer in the Thirteenth District, Seattle, and then was CO, POLAR SEA. Following shore tours included: Chief, Command and Support Division, Coast Guard Headquarters; Chief, Operations Division, Fifth Coast Guard District, Portsmouth, Virginia; Deputy Commander Maintenance and Logistics Command Pacific, Alameda, California; Director, Joint Interagency Task Force West, Alameda, California; and Commander, Fourteenth Coast Guard District, Honolulu, Hawaii.
After retiring he and his wife reside in Honolulu.
RADM McClelland is married to the former Karen H. of Cardiff, CA. They have two children, Joseph J. III, and Lindsay Marie.