DRAPER, Utah - A Utah National Guard Soldier who rescued three people from a crashed plane received the Soldier's Medal for heroism from Gen. Frank Grass, chief of National Guard Bureau, in a Dec. 6 ceremony at Camp Williams.
Staff Sgt. Robert Kelley received the prestigious award because of his actions when he risked his life rescuing three injured people from the crash of a Piper aircraft in West Jordan on Aug. 10. According to news accounts, the plane never gained altitude after takeoff and crashed into a soccer field.
"Anyone would have done what I did if they had been there," said Kelley, the reconnaissance sergeant of the 1457th Engineer Battalion and full-time employee of the 640th Regional Training Institute. "My military training just kicked in." A former volunteer firefighter assisted in extricating the crash victims, news accounts reported.
"I am proud of Staff Sgt. Kelley for his heroic actions on that fateful day," said Maj. Gen. Jeff Burton, the adjutant general of the Utah Guard. "Our Soldiers exemplify bravery and selflessness in times of need, and do it without thought of personal gain or publicity."
Grass presented the award while he was visiting the Utah National Guard for the second time as chief of the National Guard Bureau. His first trip was during the Utah National Guard change of command when Maj. Gen. Burton took command in 2012.
Grass met with Utah Guard leadership and visited elements at the Wright Air National Guard Base, Camp Williams, and Draper headquarters facility during his trip.
"Thank you [to Kelley family] for raising an outstanding young gentleman who became a Soldier that has served his nation overseas as well as responded in the homeland when he saw a situation and he saw somebody needed help," Grass said after pinning Kelley. "It really starts at home. It starts as a little child instilling those values-dedication, commitment, and community which come from our families."
The Soldier's Medal is approved by the president of the United States and is awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States or of a friendly foreign nation who distinguish themselves by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy.