AUSTIN, Texas – A former Soldier and wounded veteran received modifications to his home courtesy of a local business and non-profit organization during a ceremony March 13 in Austin, Texas.
Retired Staff Sgt. Ryan Kelly lost his right leg from an improvised explosive device blast while deployed with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment to Iraq in 2003. He was selected for the home after being approached by the organizations to see if he was interested. Usually such homes are built from the ground up by the organizations, but Kelly only wanted his existing home to be remodeled in order to facilitate his injury. The modifications allow him to get around the house easier and include a customized bath area which permits Kelly to stand while showering.
The home was presented to Kelly and his wife Helena as a gesture of gratitude for his bravery while serving in a war zone.
Kelly was a civil affairs specialist on a team tasked with helping to restore the local infrastructure in western Iraq at the time of his injury. An IED hit a convoy Kelly was riding in while en route to a conference focusing on rebuilding Iraq’s schools and hospitals in July 2003. The blast severed Kelly’s right leg below the knee.
“We have a special appreciation for the men and women who serve in our military,” said Bert Marshall, president of one of the donating organizations. "We are grateful for their brave service and the many sacrifices they and their families make to ensure our freedom – we’re proud to be a part of this special project.”
Kelly was awarded a Bronze Star for valor as well as a Purple Heart and Combat Action Badge for continuing to provide suppressive fire after losing his leg.
Current and former members of the 3rd Cav. Reg. were at the ceremony to present Kelly with a plaque honoring his sacrifice as well as to recognize his tenacity in dealing with setbacks.
“His actions in combat and his positive outlook in dealing with his injury are the epitome of what it means to be a part of the U.S. Army,” said retired Command Sgt. Maj. Harvey Reed, executive director of the 3rd Cavalry Association. “After all . . . ” he continued, “what more can you expect from a Brave Rifle?”
After his service in the Army, Kelly completed college, and pursued his dream of becoming a pilot. Now he works as the leader of a civilian medical evacuation team based out of Bastrop, Texas.
Kelly said that he is thankful for the modifications to his home because they allow him to get around the house easier when preparing for work. “I am grateful to everyone who has helped me along the way always look for opportunities to give back,” said Kelly. “That’s why I love being a MEDEVAC pilot - I get to be the best part of someone’s worst day.”