Arthur L. Kelly
Arthur L. Kelly

Arthur L. Kelly

AFRH-G Veteran Highlight
By Lori Kerns, AFRH-G Librarian

Arthur L. “Art” Kelly, Jr. was born in Lindale, GA.  He’s the first of three sons born to a supervisor in a textile mill and a housewife.  Throughout his years in school, Art was usually on the honor roll, which earned him a spot in the Beta Club.  He also participated on the Debate Team, in addition to playing basketball and baseball. 

His story of how he joined the military is an interesting one.  In 1951, Art had received a letter from the Army instructing him to go to Atlanta to get a physical.  At the time, he had Army buddies that had been fighting in Korea.  Their gruesome tales did not appeal to him so he left from his physical on a Friday and on Monday joined the Air Force. 

Upon completion of basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX, he was sent to the University of Alabama for special training.  For his first duty assignment, he was sent to Clarksville Air Base in Tennessee.  His next assignment was to the Manhattan Project in New Mexico.  This project required a “Q” clearance, which is a level above top secret.  As part of a group of 15 officers and 35 airmen, he went through 6 months of specialized training on handling and controlling atomic weapons. 

Before long, Art received his first overseas assignment to Sidi Slimane Air Base in Morocco.  His next assignments brought him back to the United States.  In 1957, he was assigned to Headquarters Strategic Air Command (SAC) and stayed for two tours of duty.  During his time at SAC Headquarters, Art received the Commandant’s Award, while in SAC Leadership School, and competed with 600 candidates to be selected as the SAC Headquarters Outstanding NCO.  After a stint in Orlando, he was sent back overseas to RAF Alconbury, England.  Here, he was assigned to the 10 Tactical Reconnaissance Wing with the duty as NCOIC Tactical Training.    He was sent back to the U. S. for other assignments for the next few years. 

For the third time he was sent overseas, this time to Okinawa.  While living on Kadena Air Base, he met Margaret, a DoD teacher who worked on the base.  They dated for two years until he was sent back to the States.  He missed Margaret terribly so he asked her if she would resign from her position and come to Ohio.  Upon her return, the couple married.  While stationed in Ohio, Art served as the enlisted advisor to the Generals who came and went, six in total. 

Art was sent overseas one last time.  His assignment was to Osan Air Base, Korea with the 51st Composite Wing.  He only had to stay one year.  During that time, he was assigned a helicopter to escort and transport the Air Force Chief Master Sergeant, Bob Gaylor, to demilitarized zones. 

He returned to Ohio in 1978, where he stayed until he retired at the rank of Chief Master Sergeant in 1981.  Throughout his 30-year Air Force career, Art received many medals, awards, and honors.  Some of these include a Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, an Air Force Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, and a National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star. 

After retirement from his thoroughly-enjoyed military career, Art became involved with the Shriners.  His work with the Shriners was a rewarding one as he and Margaret made many friends along the way.  One of his most commendable acts with the organization is his position as the Commander of the Antioch Legion of Honor. 

Art and Margaret enjoyed travelling the world.  They also enjoyed splitting their time between their two homes, one in Ohio and the other in Destin, FL.  While staying in Destin, the couple delighted in driving to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to visit Art’s brother at AFRH-G.  While on the Coast, they also enjoyed going to the casinos to eat and watch shows.  Art finally decided to put his name on the list to move into the home.  He moved into AFRH-G in January 2014, while Margaret began living in a condo a few blocks away from the home.  Sadly, Margaret unexpectedly passed in October 2014.  The couple had been married for 40 years. 

Art is a father of three, two sons and one daughter.  Altogether he has six grandchildren and four great grandchildren.  He and his family are planning to visit during a reunion in Destin over the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Maintaining an active daily life is important to Art.  Each day he socializes with friends, works out in the home’s gym, catches up on the news, and watches every movie shown in the theater.  He says that he loves it at the home.  He was married a total of 65 years and always had someone taking care of him.  At AFRH-G, he has everything he needs in one place.  In fact, Art says, “Personally, I don’t think I can live at a better place!”