Maj. Gen. D. Todd Kelly wanted to join the Air Force because he loved to fly and wanted to serve his country doing so.
Kelly has flown more than 5,500 hours, including combat and relief missions. He has traveled all over the world, including New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and Afghanistan.
Kelly stood before a packed sanctuary at Aversboro Road Baptist Church on Tuesday and thanked those who served during war and during times of peace. He thanked those who were volunteers like himself and those who were drafted.
“They helped win the Cold War, stood against aggression in the Persian Gulf,” Kelly said. “They kept peace in the Balkans, and they put their lives on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan in the years since 9/11.”
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Kelly was the featured speaker at Garner’s Veterans Day observance, the sixth and largest the town has held, drawing more than 400 people. Retired Army Maj. Gen. Charles Scott, organizer of the event, said it’s a time to remember all veterans – those living and those who died in the line of duty.
“It means a time we can call the veterans together and offer our appreciation,” Scott said. “I’ve had strangers that came up to me after the event that didn’t even attend and just offered me appreciation just because I was in uniform. That’s good for our veterans to see that support.”
The event included performances by the Garner Magnet High School Symphonic Band and the Aversboro STEM Elementary 4th and 5th Grade Performance Chorus.
In addition to veterans, Kelly also honored their families.
“We could not do the duty that our nation calls without the sacrifice that you have made back home taking care of our families, raising them,” he said. “We’ve missed holidays. We’ve missed anniversaries. We’ve missed vacations.”
The service meant something to veterans like Herbert Allen.
“It really gets to me,” said Allen, who was in the Army when World War II ended. “I came last year, and I had to come again this year. It’s really moving.”