Private Ova A. Kelley was a United States Army soldier and recipient of the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in World War II.
Kelley was born in Norwood, Mo., on March 27, 1914. Kelly joined the United States Army and served in Company A, 382nd Infantry Regiment, 96th Infantry Division at the time of his death. He single-handedly attached an entrenched Japanese position and led a charge which destroyed the remainder of the Japanese force on Dec. 8, 1944. He was shot by a sniper soon after, and died of his wounds two days later on Dec. 10, 1944 and was awarded the Medal of Honor on Oct. 19, 1946. Kelley was laid to rest at Oak Grove Cemetery in Norwood, Mo.
Representative Tony Dugger sponsored legislation, which names the bridge on Route E over Route 60 in Wright County the PVT Ova A. Kelley Memorial Bridge. Signed by Governor Jay Nixon, the law became effective on Aug. 28, 2011.
A ceremony dedicating the bridge was held on April 13, 2012 in the Norwood School Gym and the entire student body was allowed to attend.
A detail from the Patriot Guard Riders placed flags along both sides of the entrance to the school grounds prior to the ceremony.
The ceremony began a few minutes late as the crowd was still arriving and finding their seats and then "Welcome and Introduction or Speakers" was given by Mr. Chris Rutledge, MoDOT Southeast Assistant District Engineer.
Nancy Cowan, Chaplain of the State of Mo Veterans of Foreign Wars, gave a prayer and led the gathered assembly in the "Pledge of Allegiance" Chaplain Cowan had driven down from Wentzville, Mo where she is the CDR of VFW Post 5327 there.
Lincoln Connell, Norwood High School Junior, who is a WWII re-enactor dressed in an army uniform of the period in which Pvt Kelley served. Mr Connell gave a great speech about the Medal of Honor and about Pvt. Kelley.
Ms Megan Hammer representing US Senator Claire McCaskill made a short presentation.
Ms. Stacy Burks representing US Senator Roy Blunt addressed the crowd with a short speech.
Ms. Melanie Bell representing US Representative Jo Ann Emerson added some nice remarks.
Olin Parks, Commander of the Missouri Veterans of Foreign Wars, provided remarks about the Medal of Honor and how there are so few of them awarded. CDR Parks had driven from Carruthersville in the southeast part of the state to be here to help honor Pvt. Kelley.
Mr Edwin Wright, who served with Pvt Kelley in the 382nd Infantry Regiment, 96th Infantry Division was on hand to tell of Pvt Kelley and the troopers lives he saved that day by performing the actions that led to him being awarded the Medal of Honor. Mr Wright told of how they had invaded the Phillippine island of Leyte in October and the hardships they endured and of how the battle had already been won when on the night of Dec 7th the Japanese dropped troopers by parachute behind the American lines and had retaken the airfield. It was during the counterattack that Pvt Kelley charged the enemy single-handed and routed them killing several. Mr Wright is from Rogersville, Mo and is a retired member of the Missouri Highway Patrol.
Following Mr Wrights remarks the sign was unveiled by members of Pvt Kelley's family thus concluding the inside part of the ceremony. Time was allowed before the sign was taken outside so family members and others interested could take their pictures with the sign.
The family had brought these medals and photo of Pvt Kelley to share during the ceremony.
Pvt Ova A. Kelley's Medal of Honor that was presented to his son Jerry in a ceremony in 1946 in the Norwood School Gym.
The sign was then removed from the gym and taken to the bridge to be mounted.
The MoDot highway crew setting the sign on the south side of the overpass of Highway 60 on Highway E.
Watching the sign be erected. It had been raining earlier but the sun had came out and it had warmed up considerably.
Two members of Pvt Kelley's family standing under the erected sign.
Photo of Pvt Kelley's Medal of Honor award.
Pvt Ova A Kelley's Headstone at Oak Grove Cemetery north of Norwood, Mo on Highway E
Pvt Kelley's Foot stone at cemetery.
Thanks are extended to all those that submitted photos to the blogmaster for inclusion in this story. Olin Parks, Norman Allen and Iris Joe Kelley.