In 1998, just a few months after being stationed in Germany, Kelly Hall was killed in a training flight accident. Instantly, his wife Shelly, became a single mom to five children ages six and younger. The death of her husband left a huge hole in her life but it’s what her children have missed out on that really gets her. 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.”

Veteran’s Day was one of the most important holidays to Kelly. He insisted on wearing his uniform to church on the Sunday before Veteran’s 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 the family has lived in Fort Benning, GA for years now. The closest place to celebrate Kelly’s remembrance was the Friar drop zone, where he went through Airborne training prior to going to the 82nd Airborne and Operation Desert Storm. The family would each write a message on a balloon and let them go at the drop zone. As the kids get older and are attending school elsewhere, they spend more time on social media posting old pictures and reconnecting with old friends.

There are so many wonderful memories of Kelly, it is virtually impossible for his wife to pick just one. Instead she reflected on a memory that coincided on Kelly’s love for his whole family.

“Kelly and I just 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 3 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 a future education for her children has been a struggle. Knowing there are organizations like Children of Fallen Patriots, for financial support, is an absolute blessing to her.

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.”