In 1998, just a few months after being stationed in Germany, while serving in the Army, Kelly Hall was killed in a training flight accident. Within an instant, his wife, Shelly, became a single mom to five children all below the age of six. The death of her husband left a huge hole in her life; however, what really pulls on her heart is thinking about what her children have missed out on. Her youngest son, Tanner, was only 11 months old when Kelly was killed.
“My focus is raising my children without them feeling that their father’s loss made them victims,” explained Shelly. “Yes, we were all dealt a rotten hand; but, we hold our heads up, carry on, and NEVER use his loss as a reason to give up, break down, or cop out.”
Veterans Day was one of the most important holidays to Kelly. He insisted on wearing his uniform to church on the Sunday before Veterans day, and Shelly remembers being so proud to stand next to him. He loved serving his country, and he did it with such pride.
Kelly is buried in Muskegon, MI, and Shelly and the kids have lived in Fort Benning, GA. The closest place to celebrate Kelly’s remembrance is the Friar drop zone, where Kelly completed Airborne training prior to joining the 82nd Airborne and Operation Desert Storm. Each family member writes a message on a balloon and releases the balloon at the drop zone.
There are so many wonderful memories of Kelly that it is virtually impossible for Shelly to pick her favorite. Instead, she reflected on a memory that demonstrated Kelly’s love for his whole family. “Kelly and I had just moved to Wiesbaden, Germany with Tyler (age 6), Tori (age 5), Tricia (age 4), Tony (age 2), and Tanner (10 months old). After living in the American Arms hotel for 34 days, we were thrilled to get to our government quarters in Aukam housing. The children had all been bathed and put to bed, and I was washing dishes in the kitchen. All of a sudden, I see Kelly marching down the hallway with the three girls following as if they were all on a mission! My mouth dropped open, and I asked, ‘What are they doing out of bed?’ He held up a video tape and grinned, ‘I found our wedding tape, and I can’t wait to watch it with them.’ We all sat on the couch and felt his love envelope us – what a man!”
To Shelly, education is the one thing that can’t be taken away. It is powerful, enlightening, and opens so many doors. Once Kelly died, planning for her children’s educations has been a struggle. Knowing that there is an organization like Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation that provides financial support to the children of those who have lost a parent in the line of duty is an absolute blessing to her.
The Hall’s youngest son, Tanner, recently joined the Marines, following in his dad’s military footsteps. He hopes to become an officer. Shelly has always stressed to her children that they still have a father - he is just deceased. “He will always be their dad,” she explained. “He was an amazing man and a fabulous father.”