Columbia County Honor-A-Veteran Committee honors Staff Sergeant Robert F. Kelly 11/22/10
Robert Francis Kelly was born June 6, 1925 to Edward Kelly and Ethel Harder Kelly in Valatie, N.Y.
He grew up on Mechanic Street in Valatie, graduating from Martin H. Glynn High School in 1943. Robert tried to enlist in the armed forces but was initially rejected because of hearing loss, however on
July 9, 1945 while working as a plumber's helper he was drafted in the United States Army. After his induction in Albany, N.Y.
Robert received basic training at Fort Dix, N.J. He received additional training as a medic and was then assigned to the 996th TSUSGO Medical Detachment at Mason General Hospital at Brentwood, N.Y.
Staff Sergeant Robert Kelly was Ward Sergeant in the Psychiatric Department at Mason General Hospital. As
part of his duty SSgt. Kelly escorted patients to and from the facility as well as tended to the needs of those who were suffering from various mental conditions associated with the harsh realities of combat.
They suffered from what was then called "battle fatigue" but is now termed PTSD or post traumatic stress
Robert, the youngest of four brothers who served in WWII (Edward-Navy, Truscott-Marines, and John- Air Force), was honorably discharged on December 8, 1946. He was awarded the World War II Victory Medal and the American Theater Service Medal.
He returned to Valatie and married Nancy Keller on July 12, 1952 at the St. John the Baptist Church in Valatie and they raised a son, Robert Edward. He worked as a plumber, window caulker, officer worker and retired from the State of New York Department of Taxation and Finance in 1992.
Robert remained active in his community. He was a 63 year member of the John W. McConnell American Legion Post #47 in Valatie (which he helped to build), he was a founder of the Valatie Santa Claus Club, served on the Boy Scout Troop Committee, was a volunteer in his church (St. John the Baptist), and was the recipient of the Winchester-Western Inc. Commemorative Award for his military service and outstanding service to the American Legion. He also received the "Spirit of Valatie Award" for his sixty years of community service.
Robert was "quiet and unassuming, doing things without fanfare. If someone needed help, he was there. " He died on February 23, 2010 and is buried at St. John the Baptist of Valatie. He left behind his loving wife Nancy, his son Robert and three grandchildren.