Pittston Gazette (Pittston, Pennsylvania) 13 October 1948 Page 1
Colin Kellyv Buried Today In Florida Madison, Fla., Oct; 1$. Oaipt Colin Kelly came home today, nearly nearly seven years . after hlsi - flight to death in the Pacific made him America's first World War n hero. The body of the famed flier, whose exp'oits made hlai a - symbo: of American courage ' in the1 first frantic days after Pearl .Harbor, ended Its long Journey from the Pacific - last night. Today, with an honor guard f 'bombers droning overhead In the peaceful Florida sky, Kelly will be laid to rest among the shady oaks and scrub pines ot his home. The captain's widow and his son, who was Just a year old when his heroic father gave America Che lift it needed in the dark day of 1941, came here for the services. . .Rev.' B. M. Montgomery, Madison Methodist minister, will officiate at the burial service at the century - old cemetery . here. There will be no funeral, since rites have already been held for Kelly in the Pacific Theatre. A color guard of 25 men a bugler came here from MDIU Field, Tampa, Tampa, for the. services. Four light bombeM from McDill circled above the cemetery during the buriial. An honor guard of war veterans met the train bearing Kelly's coffin coffin last nigtht and transferred the body to the Madison Courthouse. Today the coffin lay In state until 'burial - time, with the veterans standing by. Just outside the courthouse is the Kelly memorial to the four freedoms, bearing the ilnscrlptlon "Greater Love No Man Than That He Would Lay Down His Life .For His Friends." That memorial tells accurately w9at Kelly did. Although he first became a hero for the reported sinking of the Japanese Battleship Haruna, - the crewmen of Kelly's bomlber rememlber him for something something else. One of the crewmen, who lives today because Kelly died, came here for thrf services and told the story of the flaming few minutes when his captain became a. hero. Robert E. Altman, Kelly's radio operator who lives now at Jacksonville Jacksonville Beach, Fla., described the flight on Dec. 10, 1941, when Kelly's lone flying fortress went out to tackle invading Japanese after most of the Pacific Air joree had ben knocked out . "We bombed thisig fat ehip (the Haruna) in level flight and scored one direct and two indirect hit which crippled and burned, her," Altman - said. "She was blazing from stem to stern." The mission produced headlines which read: "Colin Kelly alnks Jap battleship." Although the oLi Haruna Haruna showed uip later, that didn't make Kelly any less a hero In the eyes of his crew. "We were shot down by fighters !n eight of Clark Field, near Manila, after the raid," Altman related. "At 10.000 feet Kelly told us to bail out. There was fire in the bomb - bay and the engineer - gunner was dead "Kelly called for a level flight and we jumped, Apparently the plane b'.ew apart.. H'.s ?hute never opened. "Haa the captain left when we did. none of us would have got out. "If I could ever set a goal as far as manihood is concerned, it woum be to be such a man as Captain Kelly was," Altman said.