Ira Kelly; phony POW

| December 29, 2015

Ira Kelly

Someone sent us their work on this fellow, Ira Wilbur Kelly, who passed on in August at the age of 69. He was indeed a Vietnam veteran, a helicopter mechanic who deployed twice there. August of 1967 to November of 1968 with the 545th Transportation Detachment and again from June 1970 to June 1971 with the 187th Attack Helicopter Company. He served in the Army from 1964 to 1985 with countless overseas assignments including his two deployments to Vietnam. Then he told this story in TribLive;

Ira Kelly, 66, served in the Army from 1964 through 1985 including four years during the Vietnam War.

Ira Kelly was a combat-helicopter crew chief.

His aircraft was shot down by the North Koreans during his stint from 1967-71.

During that time, he was held captive.

“I was a prisoner of war for one year and 128 days,” Ira Kelly said. “The Lord took care of me.”

After his release, Ira Kelly served an additional year in the military.

Now, I’m going to give Ira the benefit of doubt and say that the reporter misreported the quote. he probably meant that the North Vietnamese shot him down, because although Ira had numerous overseas tours, none of them were to Korea. But, he wasn’t shot down or held prisoner by the Vietnamese either;

Ira Kelly DPAA

Ira Kelly Assignments 2

Ira Kelly Assignments

Ira Kelly Awards

Ira Kelly FOIA

The POW Medal was established in November 1985 and Ira retired in April 1985, so he would have missed having the medal in his records by a few months, but that wouldn’t have affected in his inclusion in the DPAA records of POW and Missing Americans. None of his deployments to Vietnam lasted long enough for him to have been a POW for “a year and a 128 days”. Yeah, I don’t understand it either.

Category: Phony soldiers

Comments (32)

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  1. fm2176 says:

    Another case of unnecessary embellishment. Perfectly admirable service blemished by the desire to be something “special”.

  2. LIRight says:

    This whole thing makes no sense.

    Twenty-one years of clearly honorable service and he blows it all three years before his death?

    Maybe I’m getting old (yeah, I am) but maybe, just maybe this guy had early onset alzheimer’s or some other illness??

    I get just as pissed as the next person when Valor is stolen from the honorable….I get the feeling that there’s more behind the scenes that may come out later. And then again, I could be all wet!

    A question….E-6 after 21 years? Did his MOS hold him back or could there be other issues?

    • Peter the Bubblehead says:

      I have a friend who served in the US Navy (Submarine Service) for 21 years and some months (the government upped full retirement to 22 years just prior to his reaching 20, then lowered it back down to 20 years after he extended for 2 years) and never made it past E-6. Part of that was due to the rating conversion in the late 90’s that combined ET, IC, QM, and RM into one rate aboard submarines and screwed advancement exams for at least three years running. So E-6 with 21 years is not out of the question.

    • Hondo says:

      Regarding his MOS “holding him back” – that’s entirely possible. It’s my understanding that the helo repair CMF was hugely over-strength for a number of years after Vietnam. That would have made promotions rather hard to come by for those who stayed in that MOS. Claw may be able to give additional background, as he was in that CMF at/near the end of the Vietnam war but changed MOSs afterwards.

      However, it’s also possible he “stepped on his crank” at least once. His FOIA shows a bit less than 21 years service – but only 5 GCMs vice the expected 6 at 3 years per (he retired short of 21, so 7 wouldn’t be an option).

      Obviously, something kept him from getting at least one GCM he should have received. I’m thinking an Article 15 or low-end court-martial (summary) could well be in the mix at some point. My guess would be early-on in his career, since there’s no clear evidence in his record of assignments that he ever was reduced from E5. But you never know.

      • Airdale USN says:

        May that last one_ There is no right or entitlement to the medal until the immediate commander has approved the award and the award has been announced in permanent orders. In the Navy I went from waiting 4 years to 3 years which is why I only have 5 Navy good conduct medals. 1984-2004.

    • B Woodman says:

      Can’t say for back then, but when I was in, there was a combination of factors that may have stopped a good man from being promoted further. How crowded was the MOS for that particular rank helped set the bar for points for promotion.
      Actually, retiring as E6/SSG at 20 years ain’t bad. That’s how far I got at retirement, and I had no “black marks” on my record.

      • LIRight says:

        I appreciate the information, gentlemen. Thank you!

        Kelly was an enigma for sure. A Pastor that carried the baggage of this serious lie for God knows how long.

        It just goes to show you that Pastor’s can be bullshit artists too.

      • Airdale USN says:

        Same here E-6/PO1 no bad marks but Making Chief was tight.

    • Some Guy says:

      I was wondering about his rank as well. Are there any forms that would show a timeline of promotions/demotions?
      His awards don’t seem to indicate that he was a shitbag, so I’m guessing he probably stepped on his pecker pretty badly late in his career, which knocked off a rocker or two.

      • Hondo says:

        Dates of rank/promotion history are items that are not typically available via FOIA – only rank at discharge. The rest has to be inferred from what’s provided.

        On occasion, NPRC screws up and provides that, but they didn’t here.

  3. RetiredArmy says:

    His Obit also stated that he earned the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal for valor and bravery.

    • LIRight says:

      The obit helped make up my mind. Thanks, RetiredArmy.

      “A proud retired Army veteran, Pastor Kelly faithfully served his country during the Vietnam War, including two years as a POW, earning the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his valor and bravery. ” Absolute Bullshit!

      “A gentle, humble, down-to-earth man….” More bullshit!

  4. TheCloser says:

    “served in the Army from 1964 through 1985 including four years during the Vietnam War”

    “shot down by the North Koreans during his stint from 1967-71”

    “prisoner of war for one year and 128 days”

    “After his release, Ira Kelly served an additional year in the military.”

    Another reporter who failed math and history, not to mention failing to validate easily verifiable information for a story (that would be like work).

  5. nbcguy54ACTUAL says:

    Cobra crewchiefs don’t fly with their birds…

  6. AnotherPat says:

    His story seems so similar to the one posted last week on Michael Killam week:

    Both Helicopter Repairmen.

    One is a Pastor, the other a Mental Counselor.

  7. Jarhead says:

    It’s a bit iffy for me to jump on a dead veteran’s bandwagon, but if that wagon is loaded down with bales of bullshit, then I’m up for cleaning off the wagon and let the rolled turds fall where they may.
    Back in my younger days, I was always told to beware of the “Three P’s”….being Pipe Smokers, Preachers and Prostitutes. More than once I have come to understand that may not have been bad advice at all. So now I wonder if this fellow ever smoked a pipe?

    • Dave Hardin says:

      Since today’s letter is “P” I will leave this here:

      Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

      This message brought to you by the letter “P”.

  8. AnotherPat says:

    During his time in Vietnam, Kelly was a 67N20, a Helicopter Repairman.

  9. Hondo says:

    For completeness, here are the links to DPAA’s consolidated (all services) escapee, returnee, and accounted-for pages for the Vietnam War. The lists are comprehensive, and include people who were taken prisoner and escaped/were rescued as soon as the same day they were captured.

    This LSoS isn’t on any of those lists. In fact, no one with the last name of “Kelly” or “Kelley” is on those lists.

    That means this LSoS took his lies to the grave with him. Now his family and friends get to find out their recently-deceased dad/husband/brother/friend/uncle/cousin/whatever was nothing but a damn liar – when he’s not around to face the consequences.

    Screw him. That’s precisely what he did to his family and friends.

  10. RetiredArmy says:

    Found a 27 August 1970 newspaper article on him featured in the Beckley Post Herald, Beckley, West Virginia (I could not cut and paste).

    Title of the Story: “GIs Want Assurance”

    “My name is Sp5 Ira W. Kelly and I am in the Army. I am stationed at Tay Ninh, Vietnam…..


    Sp5 Ira W. Kelly
    187th Avn Co (Aslt. Hel.)
    APO San Francisco 96353”

    So much for the 1 year and 28 days….

  11. Green Thumb says:

    Another shitbgag shaming his family from beyond the grave.

  12. HMCS (FMF) ret. says:

    I wonder what is on his headstone…

  13. Claw says:

    “Combat Helicopter Crew Chief”

    Naw, not so much with only a single Air Medal after two full tours.

    Another one of those maintenance hanger ground crew monkeys that only dreamed of being an everyday flight crew chief or door gunner. That’s why they come up with all these stories about being a POW with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.

    I’m betting the closest he ever got to an M-60D Machine Gun was seeing the door gunners cleaning them when he drew his M-16 from the arms room for a stint as a bunker guard.

    But he has passed, so I won’t beat up on those who are no longer here to defend themselves.

    • Claw says:

      No, wait, scratch the guard bunker/M-16 rifle routine.

      If he was a Spec5 he probably pulled nightly CQ and went around in the morning to wake the individual crewmembers in time for them to make their pre-flight times.

      But maybe he got closer to the “real action” by pulling company sergeant of the guard every third or fourth day.

      • 3/17 Air Cav says:

        Claw….seems like so many of these ground type personnel who tell their lies, want to be a flyboy.

        Also you aren’t wrong about E-5’s pulling bunkerline guard. Back in the day, my biggest motivation, for making E-5 was to get out of pulling that miserable detail!

        • Claw says:

          Yep, it sure sometimes seems to be that way.

          I can’t speak for other aviation companies, but in the company I was in there were no Spec5 regular flight crew chiefs. I think we maybe only had a total number of about four Spec5’s in the company altogether and they all worked out of the hangar.

          By the time they made it up to Spec5, provided they weren’t already one by virtue of being a “Shake&Bake Spec5” out of Fort Eustis, their duties turned them into maintenance team chiefs, Shop Foremen, Technical Inspectors, allied shop section chiefs, etc, and gave them a stay on the ground in the hangar most of the time role.

          The Army had invested a lot of time and money into them, so that’s why the PFC’s and Spec4 “Cannon Fodder” guys were the every day flier crew chiefs and gunners.

  14. Just An Old Dog says:

    Needless embellishment by a now deceased turd.
    Some may say it does no good to call out `posers who have left this mortal coil. They are gone, and it only causes grief to the family.
    Well maybe the dearly departed weren’t so dear after all, and part of their families closer is getting the true scoop on their service.
    Not saying it’s the case with these guy, but how many shitbags have spent decades abusing their spouses, beating their kids and being fuck-sticks in general and had their ass-hattery over looked because they were “heroes”?
    Another thing, as these dead posers get exposed some of these aging fucksticks might want to stop their bullshit, knowing that they will get exposed no matter what.

  15. Skippy says:

    Well and another one bites the dust

  16. Reb says:

    Did the Military PROUD…IN HIS MIND the records weren’t good enough so he doctored up the paperwork. Now he’ll be remembered as a MILITARY LIAR. How sad his family must be ?