Monday, May 30, 2005


Captain Colin P. Kelly Jr., USAF, was a hero. Just a few days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Clark Field came under attack again. Somehow, Capt. Kelly was able to get his B-17, only partially loaded with 3 600-pound bombs, in the air during the attack. At an incredible 22,000 feet, he targeted- and sank- the Japanese cruiser, Ashigara.

On the way back to Clark Field, he was attacked by Japanese flying ace, Saburo Sakai. Sakai was, and still is, a legendary fighter pilot. In over 200 missions, Sakai never lost a wingman, and is credited with at least 64 confirmed ariel combat wins. Capt. Kelly's plane was hit repeatedly by Sakai, and after one of his waist gunners perished, he ordered the rest of the crew to jump. As the 6th and final crew member bailed out of the plane, it burst into flames and blew up, killing Capt. Kelly. The rest of his crew survived the attack, even though some were captured by the Japanese and spent the rest of the war as POW's.

Due to his selfless acts of courage, he is often referred to as the first hero of WWII, and received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions on Dec. 10, 1941.

This past week another Collin Kelly became a hero.

Nine year old Collin Kelly from Framingham, MA was inspired to plant flowers on the gravesites of veterans at his local cemetary. He was bothered by the thought that our Revolutionary and Civil War Soldiers may no longer have family members around to remember them today. Originally he was going to plant marigolds, but red geraniums were eventually chosen in honor of a tradition started during the Civil War. Women often left them near the bodies of deceased soldiers at Civil War battlefields.

The cemetary refused his request, citing regulations that planting flowers on gravesites must be approved by the family members of the deceased. After a week of public outcry, and the intervention of an OIFII vet, Marine Cpl. John Grigg... Collin's request was granted. Although he was not permitted to plant the flowers without specific permission of family members (some of which contacted Collin and gave their permission), he was allowed to temporarily place potted geraniums on each of he nearly 200 veteran gravesites at Edgell Grove Cemetary. Next year, Collin and Cpl. Grigg plan on making this project involving Collin's whole school. What a kid!

This child, this 2nd grade child, has so much respect and honor for our country and the men and women who gave their lives to protect the freedoms we so readily take for granted. You may have heard about the push to make July 4th "National Flag Burning Day" by some of the so-called adults in America. How ironic... our men and women have fought and died for their right to do this. Sgt. B has already written about this situation, and offers this eloquent response: "So, to the protestors I say: Go ahead, burn the Flag... Exercise your rights... For every Flag you burn, I shall replace it, times ten..."

Take a moment today to visit the gravesites of our vets, and leave more than just your thoughts and tears. Leave a flag. Leave a flower. Show your thanks and appreciation, and Never Forget.


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