OTF Soldier Story for January 25, 2010 - Capt. Mack Kelley
Current Unit: Headquarters Cadet Command
Current Position: Executive Officer
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Fort Monroe, Va.
Hometown: Fresno, Calif.
Years of Service: 19
Although nearly a dozen of family members had served in the military, the decision to join the Army was an unexpected event in Capt. Mack Kelley's life. While in college, he tried to balance working full-time to pay for his studies. Realizing that he could not burn both ends of the candle, an Army billboard one evening caused him to enlist in the Army. Now after serving for nearly two decades and deploying to Iraq twice, Kelley knows that there is no better job than being a Soldier.
"My duty to my country, my family and my Soldiers make me proud to serve. There is no better job or career than the Army," he said, adding that he plans to serve for many more years.
While Kelley was deployed to Iraq in 2008-2009, he was assigned to a military transition team and served as an advisor to an Iraqi infantry brigade. In that role, he was responsible for providing training and coordinating logistics as well as providing backup support to the Iraqi army during missions.
"The Iraqi army is very different than the American military. We were training them to be a better and eventually self-sufficient army," he said.
Reflecting on his role training Iraqi soldiers, Kelley knows that his deployment made him a better officer and leader - and an Army Strong Soldier.
"To me, Army Strong means drive, determination, working hard to accomplish the mission and finishing it as a team. It is also mentoring, counseling and advising others to determine their goals and helping them reach that goal," said Kelley.
After returning from Iraq in August 2009, Kelley was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service throughout his deployment.
A native of Fresno, Calif., Kelley now serves as an executive officer with the U.S. Army Headquarters Cadet Command and lives near Fort Monroe, Va., with his family. Since his daughter was born six years ago, her parents have deployed three times. Kelley's wife, Mary, took care of the family and household while he was deployed in 2009 as well as in 2004-2005. Then, when Mary deployed with the Air Force in 2007-2008, Kelley was in charge of the homefront while she was overseas.