Marine general's son killed in Afghanistan while serving with battalion from Camp Pendleton
The son of a Marine general has been killed in combat in Afghanistan while serving with a battalion from Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps confirmed Wednesday.
Second Lt. Robert M. Kelly, killed Tuesday by a roadside bomb during a foot patrol in Helmand province, was the son of Lt. Gen. John Kelly, now commander of New Orleans-based Marine Forces Reserve.
Kelly, 29, had served two tours in Iraq as an enlisted Marine before being commissioned in 2008. His brother, a Marine officer, also served in Iraq.
Robert Kelly was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, at Camp Pendleton.
The battalion has had 13 Marines killed in combat in the last month as they have fought to push Taliban fighters out of the Sangin area of Helmand province, long a Taliban stronghold.
At a teleconference Wednesday with San Diego reporters, Maj. Gen. Richard Mills, the top Marine in Afghanistan, said the courage of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment has earned the unit a place among the most honored battalions in Marine history.
Mills said of the battle for Sangin: "It's the last piece of prime real estate that the enemy is contesting. Once he loses that ... he will have a difficult time establishing himself in the province."
The elder Kelly commanded Marines during the 2003 invasion of Iraq to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein, in the assault on Hussein's stronghold in Tikrit and in spring 2004 during the battle in Fallouja.
He served as the top Marine in Afghanistan in 2008 as commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos, in a statement, offered condolences to the Kelly family, including the lieutenant's wife, and said, "The corps will always remember 2nd Lt. Kelly and all of our fallen heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country."
-- Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Robert M. Kelly. Credit: Courtesy