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Two weeks until the rededication

Over the last month, a group from the community has focused on publicizing the importance of Army Maj. Charles Kelly on this the 50th anniversary of his death during the Vietnam War.
This Aug. 7 morning more people living in the low country and coast will know about ambulance pilot Kelly and the plans for Aug. 23.
Sylvania Mayor Margaret Evans and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7116 Commander Peter Mayer are scheduled to be part of the WTOC-TV “Mid-Morning Live” broadcast at 10 a.m. to promote the rededication of Kelly Memorial Stadium and urge additional Vietnam veterans to attend the special evening.
The Saturday, Aug. 23, pregame presentations at Kelly Memorial Stadium will include the unveiling of a new granite monument and a rededication before the two prep football squads take the field for the regular season opener.
That night the Screven County Gamecocks will battle St. Johns (S.C.) High School.
Army Capt. Chad Ashe, who has become a part of the committee organizing the event, said it is an honor to part of this event.
“It is great to see the support in planning an event like this for Maj. Kelly, to Army Dustoff and to Vietnam veterans,” said Ashe, who is with the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade. “We look forward to supporting the event on the 23rd.”
Kelly, the “Father of Dustoff,” was an Army helicopter pilot who died July 1, 1964, while rescuing the wounded during the war.
He is a native Screven Countian and one of a dozen from the county who died in the Vietnam War.
An enemy’s single bullet pierced Kelly’s heart as he flew his Huey in a “hot” landing zone.
Donations are being collected for the cost of the monument that will be a placed at the front of the stadium on the high school campus.
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. Each engraved brick is $50.
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.”
Ron Elliott, who does public relations for the U.S. Army, said the event is a great opportunity to honor Kelly and all Vietnam veterans.
When Vietnam veterans returned from war, people spit on them and called the vile names.
“Now we are fixing the wrong we have done in the past,” Elliott said.
“This is an opportunity to partner with the community and give our respect,” he said. “This is a personal honor for me. I love your mayor. She is a big supporter of the military.”
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.