CAMP EDWARDS, Mass., — During a ceremony on June 6, 2009, the Tactical Training Base at Camp Edwards was re-dedicated in honor of a Massachusetts National Guard Soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the United States.
On June 8, 2005, Sgt. Michael J. Kelley of Scituate was killed in Afghanistan on Firebase Shkin during a rocket attack while he was unloading a CH-47 Chinook helicopter. Kelley joined the Massachusetts Army National Guard after graduating from Scituate High School in 1997, and volunteered for a deployment to Afghanistan with the 101st Field Artillery.
“One of our missions in life is to keep Michael's name alive,” said Kelley's father, Joseph Kelley. Kelley was only 26 when he was killed and had dreams of one day working in the civilian aviation industry. A bridge in Scituate is also named after Kelley.
“This is important for the Kelley family, so they can have their living legacy for their son, Michael, who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Col. Francis McGinn from Braintree, post commander of Camp Edwards. McGinn worked closely with the Kelley family in organizing the re-dedication ceremony. The facility was originally dedicated in honor of Kelley June 7, 2008. Several people that attended the re-dedication were unavailable for the original dedication.
“For a Soldier today it is an opportunity for us to be proud of someone's service,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Sellars from Randolph, commander of the Massachusetts Army National Guard. “As far as I’m concerned, this patch of ground belongs to the Kelley family.”
Though the Kelley family still grieves for the loss of their son, the re-dedication was not dominated by a somber tone. Praises of pride, duty and honor filled the air that day.
“I admired his courage, and his willingness to step up and do what he felt strongly about. He was a fine man and an excellent Soldier who epitomized the reasons that we all wear the uniform with pride,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael Sellars of Medfield.
“Soldiers that come through here have this aura around them of Sgt. Kelley's sacrifice and how meaningful it is that this base prepares them for overseas operations. Kelley's sacrifice will not be forgotten by the men who train at Camp Edwards, but will live on and inspire the Soldiers who train there,” said McGinn.
Over 2,000 Soldiers have been trained at the TTB Kelley since its original dedication ceremony and more than 3,000 Soldiers will be trained there this year.
“If this base saves one life, then it has done its job,” said Kelley’s father.