January 31, 1945: Army Sergeant Jonah Edward Kelley Killed in Action

Jonah Edward Kelley

In the early morning hours of January 31, 1945, Army Sergeant Jonah Edward Kelley died after leading an assault on the German community of Kesternich.

Despite being wounded, Kelley had led his men on a ferocious attack the day before. That night, he refused evacuation to a field hospital and continued leading his men the next day, when he was further wounded and died.

Kelley was initially buried in The Netherlands but later returned to Mineral County for reburial. Because of Kelley’s efforts, Kesternich fell to the Americans, and he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Kelley was a native of Rada in Mineral County. He played football and basketball at Keyser High School and then attended Potomac State College before being drafted.

His military sacrifice has been recognized in many ways. Named for him are the Kelley Barracks near Stuttgart, Germany; a Navy ship; an Army Reserve facility at Fort Dix; and a bridge on Route 46 in Mineral County.

In 1946, Keyser High School established a J. Edward Kelley Society, which awards an annual scholarship to a graduating football or basketball player.