My father, Edward Gerard Kelley, started his Scouting career in 1935 as a Boy Scout in his hometown, Belleview, Illinois, in Thatcher Woods Council. The oldest of 7 children, my dad was a Boy Scout with no involvement from his father. While a Life Scout, he enlisted in the US Navy to go fight in World War 2. After his short enlistment and release to the US Naval Reserves, he was quickly reactivated, attended Officers Candidate School and then Flight School at Pensacola, Florida. He flew during World War 2 in both the Mediterranean and Pacific, flew in Korea, and served during the Vietnam era in Morocco which was a major staging stop for naval personnel headed to the Far East and Vietnam. During his service he was a pilot, flying with Attack Squadron 35 (VA-35) known as the "Black Panthers" which was assigned to NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He was one of two pilots that survived World War 2 out of the twenty squadron pilots that were members when he joined. My father served two tours as a flight instructor at NAS Pensacola, two tours as Executive Officer aboard the aircraft carriers USS Cabot and USS Meridith, and one tour as Chief of Security at NAS Kenitra, Morocco. My father was also aboard ship and flew through the fallout cloud at the Bikini Atoll #2 nuclear test explosion (not a great assignment in my opinion, but I knew he thought it was his duty). My father was "old Navy" through and through.
his military career he earned the following medals:
Following World War 2 and Korea, my father and mother once again returned to Virginia Beach, Virginia and, along with some Navy buddies, my father joined up with Air Explorer Squadron 62 where he served as Squadron Commander until moving to NAS Lakewood, New Jersey in 1960. Until 1965, adult leaders were permitted to continue working on their Boy Scout ranks and my father was awarded his Eagle Scout rank on 26 March 1958 at the age of 35. After duty at NAS Lakewood and NAS Kenitra, Morocco, my family returned to Virginia Beach in 1965. My father retired from the US Naval Reserves in the summer of 1965.
In 1966, I joined Cub Scout Pack 62 and my mother served as my Den Mother while my father served as Cubmaster. In February 1969, I joined Boy Scout Troop 60. In May 1969 we moved again to Joppatowne, Maryland -- this time as a civilian family. I joined Boy Scout Troop 978 in Harford District in the Baltimore Area Council. My dad immediately signed on as an Assistant Scoutmaster, serving with Scoutmasters Charles Mack and Richard Myer. My dad was a merit badge counselor for a variety of merit badges and I remember him dedicating 4 and 5 nights a week to counselling Scouts from all over Harford District. My dad also served on the District training committee, but his real love was camping with Troop 978. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be an Eagle Scout, just like my dad, and with his encouragement and sometimes insistence that I not quit, I was awarded my Eagle Scout rank on 26 November 1970.
In 1973, my family moved to Alexandria, Virginia where my dad had taken a civil service job. For a year I commuted back to Maryland for troop meetings and OA activities, but my dad and I never joined a local troop in Alexandria. I was working full time and my dad found an opportunity to get back into uniform and into the air and joined the Civil Air Patrol, Potomac Composite Squadron, that met and flew out of Washington National Airport.
In 1975 I graduated high school and started college and that same year my family moved to Warrenton, Virginia where my dad took a new civil service job at a small Army base, Vint Hill Farms Station. My dad became the Institutional Representative for the base commander to Troop 957. My dad worked very actively with the troop and in 1977 I started my adult Scouter career as an Assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 957.
In 1983, my dad retired from the civil service and my dad and mom moved to Pensacola, Florida. This marked the end of my dad's Scouting career. In 1984, my parents decided to move back to Virginia Beach, finding the humidity of Pensacola a bit much. After my dad died in 1985, my mother chose to remain in Virginia Beach, apparently deciding that her life as an officer's wife constantly on the move needed to slow down and find a permanent home.
Like most boys, my father was my mentor and my hero. Through our time together in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and together as adult Scouters, my father taught me many life lessons. As a young boy, I'm sure my father saw himself in me, just as I see my father in myself now as I look more and more like him. I look at my young son and see reflections of myself and of my father as a youngster. When talking to my son, I often hear my dad's words coming out of my mouth as we play together and as I try to teach him some life lessons. I miss my dad -- I miss being in Scouts with my dad -- I miss camping and flying with my dad -- most of all, I miss learning from my dad. As I try to teach my son, I learn more about myself from him and from reflecting back on time spent with my dad. I guess I'm really am still learning from Dad and will continue to do so as long as I'm able to work with youth.
I hope to have a long, long career as a Scouter and I hope someday that I'll be the old, grizzled, revered, white-haired Scouter like those I remember from my boyhood. Like my dad, these men could always make time and share their knowledge with someone's son. Someday, when we're reunited in Heaven, I'll get to catch up on what sorts of Scouting jobs Dad's been doing up there and we'll get to go camping and flying together again. We'll find some other Scouters to swap patches and war stories and share coffee with, maybe start a Scout troop, and we'll look down on my son and see how he does as a Scout leader. I know he'll be a good one because, thanks to my wife's father and grandfather, my son has an opportunity to become a fourth-generation Eagle Scout. I know I was very proud to follow my dad on the Eagle Trail. My Dad was inducted into the Order of the Arrow before I was and he was on cook crew during my Ordeal weekend. He got to see my Ordeal ceremony. I sealed my membership as a Brotherhood member before he did and I got to see his Brotherhood ceremony in Nentico Lodge 12's Mystic Circle. That night, I got to see the look of boyhood wonder and amazement on my father's face...
Today your grandson Andrew completed his OA ordeal and was inducted
into Nentico Lodge 12, joining us as the third-generation member of
this fine lodge. I was at the Ordeal Ceremony at Mystic Circle and I
know you were with us...
Andrew passed his Eagle Board of Review in January 2004, becoming a
fourth-generation Eagle Scout. This weekend he became a Brotherhood
member of Nentico Lodge, joining you and I.