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  • United States. A DFC to Staff Sergeant William E. Kelley, Jr., Aerial Photographer with the 5th Air Force, USAAF
  • United States. A DFC to Staff Sergeant William E. Kelley, Jr., Aerial Photographer with the 5th Air Force, USAAF
  • United States. A DFC to Staff Sergeant William E. Kelley, Jr., Aerial Photographer with the 5th Air Force, USAAF
  • United States. A DFC to Staff Sergeant William E. Kelley, Jr., Aerial Photographer with the 5th Air Force, USAAF
  • United States. A DFC to Staff Sergeant William E. Kelley, Jr., Aerial Photographer with the 5th Air Force, USAAF
  • United States. A DFC to Staff Sergeant William E. Kelley, Jr., Aerial Photographer with the 5th Air Force, USAAF
  • United States. A DFC to Staff Sergeant William E. Kelley, Jr., Aerial Photographer with the 5th Air Force, USAAF
  • United States. A DFC to Staff Sergeant William E. Kelley, Jr., Aerial Photographer with the 5th Air Force, USAAF
  • United States. A DFC to Staff Sergeant William E. Kelley, Jr., Aerial Photographer with the 5th Air Force, USAAF
  • United States. A DFC to Staff Sergeant William E. Kelley, Jr., Aerial Photographer with the 5th Air Force, USAAF
  • United States. A DFC to Staff Sergeant William E. Kelley, Jr., Aerial Photographer with the 5th Air Force, USAAF
  • United States. A DFC to Staff Sergeant William E. Kelley, Jr., Aerial Photographer with the 5th Air Force, USAAF
  • United States. A DFC to Staff Sergeant William E. Kelley, Jr., Aerial Photographer with the 5th Air Force, USAAF
  • United States. A DFC to Staff Sergeant William E. Kelley, Jr., Aerial Photographer with the 5th Air Force, USAAF
  • United States. A DFC to Staff Sergeant William E. Kelley, Jr., Aerial Photographer with the 5th Air Force, USAAF
  • United States. A DFC to Staff Sergeant William E. Kelley, Jr., Aerial Photographer with the 5th Air Force, USAAF

Item: M0215-57

United States. A DFC to Staff Sergeant William E. Kelley, Jr., Aerial Photographer with the 5th Air Force, USAAF

$800

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United States. A DFC to Staff Sergeant William E. Kelley, Jr., Aerial Photographer with the 5th Air Force, USAAF

Distinguished Flying Cross (in bronze, engraved "S. SGT. WILLIAM E. KELLEY JR A.C." on the reverse, measuring 43.7 mm (w) x 43.7 mm (h), original ribbon with brooch pinback, with its 36 mm (w) x 10 mm (h) ribbon bar); Air Medal (in bronze, engraved "S. SGT. WILLIAM E KELLEY JR A.C." on the reverse, measuring 42 mm in diameter, original ribbon with brooch pinback, with its 35.5 mm (w) x 10 mm (h) ribbon bar); Army Good Conduct Medal (in bronze, measuring 31.8 mm in diameter, original ribbon with brooch pinback); and Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (in bronze, measuring 32 mm in diameter, original ribbon with brooch pinback). Extremely fine. Accompanied by his United States Army Air Force Aircrew Badge, Reduced Size (in sterling silver, marked "STERLING" on the reverse, measuring 51.5 mm (w) x 15 mm (h), horizontal pinback); his United States Army Air Forces Technician Badge with two bars - PHOTOGRAPHER, PHOTO LAB. TECH. (in sterling silver, marked "STERLING" on the reverse of the badge and on the reverse of both bars, measuring 33.5 mm (w) x 59 mm (h) inclusive of its bars, pinback on the badge); his 5th Air Force Patch (in red, white, blue and orange embroidery, measuring 63 mm in diameter); his Air Force Association Lapel Badge (in bronze gilt with red, white and blue enamels, maker marked "METAL ARTS CO. ROCH. N.Y." on the reverse, 13 mm (w) x 12.5 mm (h), screwback.

Accompanied by twenty-six official photographs from the 38th Bomb Group illustrating bomb strikes on ships, airfields, aerial aircraft and individuals, numerous photographs of Kelley, “Welcome Home: What Next” document provided to soldiers upon arrival home, and research pertaining to Kelley’s service.

Footnote: William E. Kelley, Jr. was born on August 21, 1923. He grew up in Biddeford, Maine and graduated from high school in 1941. His first job was as a Photographer at Gob Studios in nearby Old Orchard Beach, Maine, in September 1941. Kelley, Jr. enlisted for service with the United States Army Air Forces on January 9, 1942. His photography experience would aid him in his career in the Air Force. He served in the Pacific theater during the Second World War, one location acknowledged as having been in New Guinea, as evidenced by the inscription on the reverse of the photographer. He was an Aerial Photographer assigned to two 5th Air Force Bombardment Squadrons. The B-25's missions were designed to bomb and strafe available Japanese targets. Kelley, Jr. took reconnaissance photographs, as well as photos detailing assessments of battle damage to targeted Japanese planes and shipping after the B-25's had performed their duties. On May 30, 1943, he was promoted to Sergeant and was again promoted on August 1, 1943 to Staff Sergeant.

In early January 1944 the Photographic Section were highly commended by the Colonel and Lt. Colonel of the Air Corps for their excellent work and untiring efforts. On January 14, 1944, the 38th Bomb Group was praised for the “excellent oblique photographs which have resulted during recent strike missions in the vicinity of Uligan Habor” noting that the “intelligence derived from these photos in the form of damge [sic] assessment target information and enemy activity has been greatly assisted by the quality of the pictures. The work of the 38TH Group is held as an example for other units of the Air Force” by Major Joseph C. Bogart. Photographs taken by the 38th Bomb Group were included in the “Years study of Operations in New Guinea” a book prepared by 1st. Lieutenant of the Air Corps, Statistical Control Officer, Earl W. Bender.

From January to March, 1944, S/Sgt Kelley flew fourteen missions, all strikes, specifically targeting the following locations: Hansa Bay, N.G., But, New Guinea, Saidor Supplies, Los Negros Islands, Madang, Pers & Inst., Momote Air Drome, Shipping N.H., AA Position south of Boram Strip, N.G. Los Negros Islands, Admiralty Islands, Dagua at Wewak, Boram Strip and Kairiru Island. For these operational missions flown, Kelley was awarded an Air Medal on June 29, 1944.

In his recommendation of Kelley, Capt. Richard A. Salome wrote, “T/Sgt. William E. Kelley, 1016993, has served twenty-six (26) months overseas, in the Photographic Section of the 38th Bomb Group. Twenty-four (24) months were served under my command. Sgt. Kelley is a highly skilled Laboratory Technician, Camera Repairman, Group and Aerial Cameraman and Photographer and Aerial Gunner. He is also highly skilled in the instalation [sic] of Cameras in Aircraft. He has been on combat status for more than a year and has participated in forty-nine (49) Combat Missions as Aerial Photo Gunner.”

On August 22, 1944, Kelley was awarded the distinguished flying cross. The citation is as follows, “For extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight over Dutch New Guinea on 16 June 1944. These officers and enlisted men were crew members of the lead plane in a formation of B-25’s dispatched on a long low-level strike against two heavily defended Japanese airdromes. By fling at minimum altitude between low rolling hills, the formation achieved almost complete surprise on the enemy and were able to bomb and strafe samate Airdrom so effectively that it was obscured by smoke and flames. When enemy fighters rose from the second target, Jefman Airdrome, they were met by accurate fire which shot down at least three of them. Direct Bomb hits were made on fuel and supply dumps, and anti-aircraft positions, and at least fifty airplanes parked on the ground were destroyed or damaged. On the return flight there plain led a concentrated attack on an enemy bomber which was finally sent crashing into the sea. The outstanding courage and devotion to duty displayed by this crew are worthy of highest commendation.”

In addition to the DFC, Kelley received an Oak Leaf Cluster for his Air Medal. The citation is as follows, “For meritorious achievement while participating in sustained operational, flight missions in the South West Pacific area from 3 April 1944 to 17 June 1944, during which hostile contact was probable and expected. These operations consisted of bombing missions against enemy Airdromes and Instalations [sic] and attacks on enemy naval vessels and shipping. The courage and devotion to duty displayed by Sergeant Kelley during these flights are worthy of commendation.”

On May 18, 1945, Kelley turned in his equipment, gloves, combination set, and jacket. At the end of the month he was transferred to Oklahoma City. After twenty-nine months' service in the USAAF, he was Honorably Discharged on June 3, 1945. As a veteran who was discharged from the military, he was provided an education or training subsistence allowance of fifty dollars a month beginning in September of that same year. Following the war, Kelley attended and graduated from Wentworth Institution in Boston.

Five days after his discharge, he registered for the draft in his old home town of Biddeford on June 8, 1945 and his Social Security Number 006-12-8963 was issued before 1951. It is very possible that this is the same ‘William E. Kelley, Jr.’ that became an aerial cameraman for many blockbuster hits, including Starman and Top Gun. He was a resident of Portland, Maine when he died on July 6, 2003, at the age of 79. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Portland. 

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