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Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Army

Ova Art Kelley

  • Also Known As: Kelley, Art
  • Rank: Private
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    Company A, 382d Infantry,
    96th Infantry Division
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Army
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: December 8, 1944
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: Leyte, Philippine Islands

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Before dawn, near the edge of enemy-held Buri airstrip, the company was immobilized by heavy, accurate rifle and machine-gun fire from hostile troops entrenched in bomb craters and a ditch less than 100 yards distant. The company commander ordered a mortar concentration which destroyed one machine gun but failed to dislodge the main body of the enemy. At this critical moment Pvt. Kelley, on his own initiative, left his shallow foxhole with an armload of hand grenades and began a one-man assault on the foe. Throwing his missles with great accuracy, he moved forward, killing or wounding five men, and forced the remainder to flee in a disorganized route. He picked up an M1 rifle and emptied its clip at the running Japanese, killing three. Discarding this weapon, he took a carbine and killed three more of the enemy. Inspired by his example, his comrades followed him in a charge which destroyed the entire enemy force of 34 enlisted men and two officers and captured two heavy and one light machine guns. Pvt. Kelley continued to press the attack onto an airstrip, where sniper fire wounded him so grievously that he died two days later. His outstanding courage, aggressiveness, and initiative in the face of grave danger was an inspiration to his entire company and led to the success of the attack.

Medal of Honor Recipient Ova Art Kelley
Medal of Honor Recipient Ova Art Kelley
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Norwood, Wright County, Missouri
  • Awarded Posthumously: Yes
  • Presentation Date & Details: February 7, 1946

    Presented at Norwood High School (Norwood, MO) to his son, Jerry Kelley, by Brigadier General Charles L. Milliken.

  • Born: March 27, 1914, Norwood, Wright County, MO, United States
  • Died: December 10, 1944, Leyte, Philippine Islands
  • Buried: Oak Grove Baptist Church Cemetery (MH), Norwood, MO, United States

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