Sgt. 1st Class Laura Berry
Massachusetts National Guard Public Affairs
November 15, 2018
The rain held off as people gathered on Hancock Street, which was blocked off for the dedication ceremony of the recently remodeled National Guard armory that has been in Quincy, Mass. since 1924. The armory, now known as the Kelley Armory, was named in honor of Sgt. Michael Jason Kelley of Battery E., 101st Field Artillery Regiment, Massachusetts Army National Guard.
Sgt. Kelley, of Scituate, Mass., was killed in action on June 8, 2005 at Camp Salerno, Shkin Province, Afghanistan, when Camp Salerno came under heavy fire during what was one of the harshest battles of the early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom. A mortar attack on a helicopter landing zone where Kelley was working resulted in his death along with another U.S. Soldier. Kelley became the first Massachusetts National Guard combat casualty in the Global War on Terrorism.
Thirteen years later, Kelley’s memory is not forgotten. His family was among those in attendance at the dedication ceremony and they were proud and honored by the dedication to their Michael.
“This memorial in memory of my brother is so much more than the sign on this building in which his name is being placed. It’s keeping Michael’s memory alive for years to come,” said his sister Karianne Golemme.
Joe Kelley, Michael’s father, said that one of Michael’s favorite movies was Tommy Boy and a quote from the movie is etched on his gravestone. “Brothers don’t shake hands, brothers gotta hug.”
“Michael was a fun guy to be with. Always had something nice to talk about,” Joe said with emotion and Karianne described him as the life of the party.
“Michael’s devotion to his country and his patriotism are undeniable,” said Lt. Col. Peter Fiorentino, Battalion Commander of the 101st Field Artillery Regiment. “I was honored to know him personally.”
Now that the remodeling construction is coming to a close, the armory will be ready for occupants. The updates to the building are long overdue and will be a welcome boost to morale for those who work there. Soon, Kelley’s brothers and sisters from the 101st Field Artillery will be moving back into the updated building to walk the same halls he once walked.
A plaque with the armory’s new name and a sketch of Sgt. Kelley was ceremoniously hung inside the armory by his father, while other members of the family helped out or stood close by for support.
“To have this armory named and dedicated to the service and sacrifice of our son, Sgt. Michael J. Kelley, has shown me and my family that we are not alone in honoring Michael’s sacrifice, and how proud we all are of the hero he really is,’’ his dad said. “For all future generations, Michael will never, ever be forgotten.”