MAJOR Charles L. Kelly

MAJOR Charles L. Kelly
Major Charles L. Kelly was DUSTOFF and DUSTOFF was “Combat Kelly.” The two became synonymous in Vietnam in 1964. As commander of the 57th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance), Kelly assumed the call sign “DUSTOFF.” His skill, aplomb, dedication, and daring soon made both famous throughout the Delta. The silence of many an outpost was broken by his radio draw, “…this is DUSTOFF. Just checking in to see if everything is okay.” And when there were wounded, in came Kelly “hell-bent for leather!” On 1 July 1964 Kelly approached a hot area to pick up wounded only to find the enemy waiting with a withering barrage of fire. Advised repeatedly to withdraw, he calmly replied to the ground element’s advisor, “When I have your wounded.” Moments later, he was killed by a single bullet. Kelly was dead but his “DUSTOFF” became the call sign for all aeromedical missions in Vietnam. “When I have your wounded” became the personal and collective credo of the gallant DUSTOFF pilots who followed him. Major Charles L. Kelly was inducted into the DUSTOFF Hall of Fame on 17 February 2001.

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