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For an American Hero: Maj. Charles Kelly

Local groups and ones from around the state are collaborating for the Aug. 23 pregame presentation as Kelly Memorial Stadium will be rededicated to honor Maj. Charles Kelly, a helicopter pilot who died rescuing the wounded during the Vietnam War.
Before the Screven County Gamecocks take on their regular-season opening opponent St. Johns (S.C.) High School in a rare Saturday night contest, a granite monument will be unveiled in honor of Kelly and a special ceremony will be held on the field before the 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
On Tuesday, personnel representing the military, the school system, and the community gathered at the stadium to decide how best to conduct the ceremony in August.
Kelly, the “Father of Dustoff,” died from a single bullet to the heart 50 years ago on July 1, 1964, when he was killed during the Vietnam War by an enemy’s single bullet as the U.S. Army ambulance Huey pilot was warned out of a “hot” landing zone. Kelly’s reply was an adamant, “When I have your wounded.”
Donations are now being accepted for the costs of the monument that will be a permanent part of the stadium.
Individuals will be given the opportunity to buy bricks engraved with their name or business name. The bricks will be part of the walkway up to the moment. The cost of the engraved bricks will be announced soon. Local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7116 and the Friends of Maj. Charles Kelly Committee are working in unison with multiple entities on the event in honor of the war hero pilot who flew an ambulance helicopter into dangerous zones to rescue the injured.
To make a donation to the monument, checks can be mailed to Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7116 Commander Peter Mayer at 424 Runs Branch Road, Newington, GA 30446. Please make the checks payable to the VFW post and denote the contribution in the lower left as “Maj. Charles Kelly Rededication.”
As commander of the helicopter ambulance, Kelly assumed the call sign “Dustoff” which became the call sign for all other aeromedical missions in Vietnam. “When I have your wounded” would become the motto of the Dustoff pilots who succeeded Kelly who was with the 57th Medical Detachment from January to July 1964 as he was killed when he attempted to evacuate a wounded American advisor along with several South Vietnamese soldiers.
The stadium on Halcyondale Road was named in honor of Kelly Oct. 15, 1965, after the high school’s letterman’s club, the S Club, had sponsored a contest as students submitted potential names for the field. A committee of community leaders, civic clubs and school personnel then narrowed the list down to three. The school board reviewed the three choices; took them under advisement; and chose Kelly to be the namesake for the stadium.