James J. Kelly was born in High Point, North Carolina but grew up
in Lynchburg, Virginia. He attended Hampton Institute (now
Hampton University), then joined the Army Air Corps initially in
the engineering field, followed by his selection for transfer to the
medical corps from which he graduated with honors.
Additional training as a flight surgery technician led to his
assignments at Fort Sam Houston and Fort Hood (TX),
Lockbourne Army Air Field (OH) with the 332nd Group until the
base’s closure in 1949, as well as Japan during the Korean War,
aiding in the medical evacuation of the 1st Marine Division from
the Chosin Reservoir Battle.
In 1955 Technical Sergeant Kelly was commissioned a 2nd
Lieutenant, qualifying as an aviator in the AT-6 and T-33 aircraft
and then serving admirably as an instructor pilot, weapons and
ground controller, operations officer, and squadron commander
until his retirement as a Major in 1971.
Mr. Kelly has since dedicated his life to social and community
improvement, as the former vice chair of the San Antonio
Planning Commission, and member of the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference, Community Workers Council of San
Antonio, and Our Lady of the Lake University Trustee Board,
among multiple other positions. Mr. Kelly and Sallie, his wife of
over 50 years, made their home in San Antonio.