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Front Page » March 29, 2005 » Local News » The wait is over
Published 4,348 days ago

The wait is over

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Staff Writer

CWS Kelly Hess returns from Afghanistan

CW3 Kelly Hess in the cockpit of his Apache helicopter.

The wait is over for now, for Red and Jan Hess of Ferron, for the safe return of their son. CW3 Kelly Hess recently returned from Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan. He has been serving with the Utah National Guard 1-211th Aviation Battalion from West Jordan, as an Apache helicopter pilot. He arrived at Ft. Carson, Colo. on St. Patrick's Day for several days of debriefing before returning to Salt Lake City to his anxious and proud family.

During his tour of duty in Afghanistan, Hess flew the Apache on supply runs, medivac flights and moving troops around the area. On one flight in particular, he was escorting a Blackhawk when it became the target of a rocket propelled grenade attack. His commanding officer recommended him for the Air Medal Commendation for actions he took during the attack.

The commander wrote the following: "CW3 Kelly Hess distinguished himself while supporting a Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force (CJSOTF) mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. On Sept. 4, 2004, CW3 Hess was the pilot in command (PC) of an AH-64 Apache helicopter providing gunship support for a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter transporting Special Forces soldiers from Nangalam to Bagram Air Base.

"While flying through a narrow, steeply walled mountain valley, the UH-60 helicopter was fired upon with a rocket propelled grenade. While the UH-60 helicopter circled further down the valley out of harms way, CW3 Hess obtained information from the UH-60 crew and Special Forces soldiers. This information included the origin of the attack, number of Anti-Coalition Militia (ACM) and the physical description. Utilizing this intelligence, CW3 Hess and crew located the ACM members involved in the attack, observing them and their actions to gain further intelligence. After completing this objective, CW3 Hess and crew escorted the UH-60 helicopter to the Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Jalalabad.

Kelly Hess is the pilot of an Apache helicopter and he recently returned from Afghanistan.

"While the aircraft were being refueled in Jalalabad, CW3 Hess assisted in coordinating the information collected from both aircrews and Special Forces Soldiers regarding the incident. He was instrumental in developing and coordinating a deliberate and well-planned course of response to the attack. CW3 Hess then briefed the response plan to other aircrew members and Special Forces team, soliciting feedback and refining the mission plan prior to mission initiation. He further assisted in coordination of transmission of the acquired intelligence and proposed course of action to the Task Force Pirate Tactical Operation Center (TOC) in an extremely professional manner.

"Upon receiving authorization, CW3 Hess and crew escorted the UH-60 back to the attack site. CW3 Hess and crew provided advance reconnaissance to include relocating the ACM forces from their place of concealment, marking the ACM forces location for ground troop recognition, as well as continued observation of the ACMs movement as they attempted to flee. These observations were continuously relayed to the Special Forces team inserted by the UH-60 and aided the Special Forces team with the interception and capture of two ACM members. Throughout the action, CW3 Hess and crew provided close air support to the Special Forces team.

"Upon capture of the two ACM members, CW3 Hess and crew provided gunship support for the UH-60 helicopter transporting the Special Forces soldiers and their prisoners to Asadabad and the return flight to Bagram Air Base.

"CW3 Hess' actions directly contributed to the capture of two ACM members with an associated increase in human intelligence (HUMINT) regarding ACM activity in the Asadabad area."

CW3 Hess has been in the military for 20 years and performed multiple jobs during his career. He began his military career in Price with the 1457th Engineers. He later transferred to the 211th Aviation. He has been flying since 1997. His wife Lori, is also an Emery County native and her mother Sandra Boren, lives in Ferron. Kelly's brother, Jerry and his wife Kandi are also from Ferron.

Kelly and Lori Hess with sons, Jace and Hayden.

Hess has been away from home for more than 15 months, and is looking forward to spending some quality time with family. He also expresses his appreciation to the many people who wrote or sent packages, and he wants them to know how much they meant. The love and support from home, shown by the many patriotic Americans, helps those military personnel who are stationed far from home.

Kelly is an Emery High graduate and carries on a proud military tradition started by his father, Red, who is also a veteran and a long time active member of American Legion Post #42. His mom, Jan, is very active with the American Legion Auxiliary and established Operation Home Support.

This is an effort to provide Emery County military personnel currently serving overseas, with care packages.

These packages include hygiene items, snack foods, and small entertainment items.

This is an ongoing project and anyone interested in donating money for postage, or items to be included in the packages, can contact Jan at 384-2753.

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