PCHS grad, injured in Iraq, receives hallowed military honor | ParkRecord.com

PCHS grad, injured in Iraq, receives hallowed military honor

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

On March 20, 2008, Adam Kelley, a sergeant in the Utah Army National Guard, was stationed in Iraq and on a supply mission near Mosul,

A roadside bomb exploded outside his armored truck, knocking the Park City guardsman unconscious with a concussion. With Kelley being well known around Park City and the grandson of a beloved Parkite, it was the first time many people in the city knew someone who had been injured in the Iraqi war.

Kelley, a graduate of Park City High School who is now 25 years old, had already logged National Guard time in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona. When the roadside bomb exploded, he was three years into his time in the military.

On Monday, the Utah Army National Guard held a ceremony to award Kelley a Purple Heart, the hallowed medal given to injured soldiers. Under sunny skies at the desolate Camp Williams, and surrounded by squads of other National Guardsmen, Kelley received the Purple Heart.

"A lot of honor. A lot of men and women have received this in the past. A lot will receive it in the future. I’ll wear it with pride," Kelley said in an interview after the ceremony.

As he was called to the front of the formation, Kelley, wearing combat fatigues and a machine gun strapped to his back, ran into position to receive the decoration. The Purple Heart was pinned to the uniform and he turned to the other guardsmen as they gave their applause. He then returned to the formation.

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"You are certainly an inspiration to us who wear the uniform," Brian L. Tarbet, the major general of the Utah Army National Guard, said, adding that Kelley has had a memorable military career thus far.

Kelley, who remains a guardsman, said he continues to suffer headaches related to the blast. He is scheduled to be sent to Afghanistan for a 12-month deployment starting in July. He will be searching for improvised explosive devices like the roadside bomb that injured him in Iraq. Kelley expects he will be in a battle zone in Afghanistan.

His enlistment as a guardsman lasts another year, and Kelley said he plans to re-enlist for another six years. He wants to build a career in the military.

Jim Santy, Kelley’s grandfather and a Korean War veteran, attended the Purple Heart ceremony on Monday with other family members and Kelley’s girlfriend, saying afterward he hopes Kelley spends his career in the military.

"It’s more than an honor. He’s giving more than most of us ever give to the United States," Santy said.

Kelley is at least the second soldier from the Park City area to receive a Purple Heart for injuries suffered in Iraq. Jake Larsen, another Park City High School graduate, was hurt in a roadside bombing in early 2007. Another soldier, Edwinn Haga, was awarded a Purple Heart after sustaining injuries in Iraq in mid-2006. He later moved to Park City.

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