National War College dedicates classroom to Virginia Guardsman

The National War College today dedicates a classroom to former alumnus and Virginia National Guard Soldier Col. Paul M. Kelly, Kelly, a 2004 graduate of the National War College, died in a helicopter crash in Baghdad on Jan. 20, 2007. He previously commanded the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment. (Photo by Lt. Col. Eric Atkisson, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

The National War College today dedicates a classroom to former alumnus and Virginia National Guard Soldier Col. Paul M. Kelly, Kelly, a 2004 graduate of the National War College, died in a helicopter crash in Baghdad on Jan. 20, 2007. He previously commanded the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment. (Photo by Lt. Col. Eric Atkisson, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

WASHINGTON – During an official ceremony at Fort McNair April 25, the National War College dedicated one of its classrooms to an alumnus and former Virginia National Guardsman killed in Iraq in 2007.

Col. Paul M. Kelly, a 2004 graduate of the National War College, died in a helicopter crash in Baghdad on Jan. 20, 2007. Commissioned in 1982 through the University of Dayton (Ohio) Army ROTC, he served as an engineer officer in the Ohio National Guard and later as an aviation officer in the South Carolina National Guard and National Guard Bureau before taking command of the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, Virginia National Guard, an assignment that included a tour in Bosnia-Herzegovina as the Aviation Task Force Commander for Stabilization Force-10.

His commander during that deployment was the 29th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, now the Adjutant General of Virginia. Long, who attended the dedication ceremony on April 25, praised Kelly as an “outstanding battalion commander and a great man.”

A plaque next to the National War College’s Colonel Paul M. Kelly Classroom, room 238, describes Kelly as “a man who lived his life to lead others with a servant’s heart” and “who paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that others continue to enjoy life in this great nation.” (Photo by Lt. Col. Eric Atkisson, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

A plaque next to the National War College’s Colonel Paul M. Kelly Classroom, room 238, describes Kelly as “a man who lived his life to lead others with a servant’s heart” and “who paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that others continue to enjoy life in this great nation.” (Photo by Lt. Col. Eric Atkisson, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Also attending the dedication ceremony was Gen. Frank J. Grass, National Guard Bureau Chief, who shared his memories of Kelly’s unique contributions as the Bureau’s Aviation and Safety Division Chief. In 2005, in the days immediately before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, Kelly came up with a plan on his own initiative that consolidated and prepositioned up to 160 National Guard helicopters from different states to assist authorities in the wake of the storm.

“It was that vision, coming out of this school, that Paul had, that saved many, many lives,” said Grass.

A plaque next to the National War College’s Colonel Paul M. Kelly Classroom, room 238, describes Kelly as “a man who lived his life to lead others with a servant’s heart” and “who paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that others continue to enjoy life in this great nation.”

Kelly is survived by his wife Maria and sons Paul and John, who both cut the ribbon for the classroom dedicated to their father’s memory.

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