3-023 To Mrs. Colin P. Kelly, Jr., December 18, 1941

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: December 18, 1941

Subject: World War II

To Mrs. Colin P. Kelly, Jr.1

December 18, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]

My dear Mrs. Kelly:

You have my deepest sympathy in the tragic loss this sudden war has brought to your life. There must be solace in the knowledge that Captain Kelly gave his life in striking a deadly blow against a treacherous enemy.2 So many die heroically, but without the satisfaction in the moment of sacrifice of having struck a fatal blow and left an heritage of valor. You must be very proud, and your son will be more so in days to come.

Your courageous bearing and the gallantry of your husband have made a great contribution to the morale of the American Army.

With sympathy and appreciation


Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, General Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. A note on the file copy of this document reads: “written in long hand and sent by air mail Dec. 20 41.”

2. On December 10 Kelly (U.S.M.A., 1937) piloted a B-17 sent to attack Japanese ships supporting the troop landing at Gonzaga in northern Luzon. He reported a direct hit and two near misses on what he thought was a battleship, later presumed to be the Haruna. His plane was shot down while returning to base and Kelly was killed. He was the first identifiable hero of the United States war effort, and his actions were highly praised by the president and others. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Army Air Forces chief H. H. Arnold asserted that Kelly’s “feat will live in the history of the Army Air Forces, because he and his crew proved that the most powerful naval vessels afloat cannot operate with impunity within the range of our bombers and the flaming courage of our airmen.” (New York Times, December 19, 1941, p. 13.) It was later established that the Haruna was actually then off the coast of Malaya, and it was never conclusively established what Kelly’s attack had hit. (Morton, Fall of the Philippines, p. 105.)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), p. 26.

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Holding ID: 3-023

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