Rory Kelley, with the National Guard, talked about his experience in the military at Tea Area’s Veterans Day program Nov. 7.
Kelley was first interested in joining the military as a freshman in high school when the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 occurred. He was flooded with anger, fear and dread.
Due to a variety of life choices it was another six years before he decided to join after talking with a co-worker about his deployment.
“He was telling me his stories and sharing them with me. It brought all of those feelings back that I had that Tuesday morning in September 2001. That is what kind of drove me to go ahead and see a recruiter,” he said.
That was in 2007. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. He talked about the conditions he saw in combat.
“With deployment, it was 12 months of new trials every day. We experienced and saw all kinds of things,” Kelley said.
Kelley said he does not serve for the glory or the recognition or the parades.
“I serve because I love my family, I love my country and I want to protect that. I’m not a hero. I’m no one special,” he said.
He noted that every member of the military is important, every job, every branch. He said it’s like a puzzle. Part of that puzzle is family members, employers and community members.
Kelley encourages civilians to thank veterans for their sacrifice, not just their service.
“Regardless if you are an active duty soldier, National Guard soldier or reserve soldier, you put on this uniform you’re going to sacrifice your time,” he said.