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George Maurice Kelly
Second Lieutenant, United States Army
Born at London, England, December 14, 1878, he was educated at private schools in Bedford, England.

His family came to the United States to Great Falls, Montana, in 1896.

He was rejected by the Canadian Mounted Rifles for duty in the Boer War due to his light weight.

He became a U.S. citizen in 1902 and in 1904 he enlisted in the Army in New York City and three years later was commissioned and assigned to the 30th Infantry. He went to the Philippines with that unit in July 1907 and helped make a topographical survey of Luzon.

In July 1909 he went to China and returned via England where he observed the British Army Maneuvers that fall. He rejoined the 30th Infantry in San Francisco in December 1909. For a while he was attached to an aviationbattalion at Selfridge Field. During an aviation meet there he made a baloon ascension with the famed Walter Brookins and took photographs, an early feat in aerial photogaphy.

In February 1911 he went to San Diego, California, for pilot training under Glenn H. Curtiss. On May 10, 1911 he was killed in a plane crash at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, being the first Army pilot and the second officer to lose his life in military aviation. The Curtiss bi-plane he was landing lost a brace from one of the wheels and the plane bounced and veered toward the camp of the 11th U.S. Infantry. To avoid plowing into the camp, he banked sharply and dove into the ground to his death. Camp Kelly, near San Antonio, was redesignated Kelly Field (now Kelly Air Force Base), on July 30, 1917.

He lies buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


Updated: 3 December 2000 Updated: 8 March 2003  Updated: 1 October 2004 Updated: 20 November 2005