A Hero in so Many Ways
Kelley Chase was an all-American guy. At a young age, he requested to attend the New Mexico Military Institute so he could follow in the footsteps of his grandfather who was a B17 pilot. It is very difficult to get accepted into this prestigious institute, but Kelley was a great student and became a very active member of the school. Besides participating in the band, he joined a ski club as an extracurricular activity. Kelley was the person everyone wanted to be friends with and when he made friends those people would become his lifelong friends.
Kelley was very committed to his goals and graduated from the New Mexico Military Institute in 1992.
After secondary school, Kelley was accepted into the Air Force Academy. Upon graduation in May of 1996, he was appointed to the position of Second Lieutenant. Almost a decade later, Kelley would be stationed in Geilenkirchen, Germany. He did not originally want to move to Germany and leave his home base in the United States, but after getting settled and picking up old hobbies, such as skydiving, Kelley began to enjoy his time there. While stationed abroad, Kelley served as a mission crew commander and air battle manager on an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS). He also functioned as an Air Force instructor in addition to his crew responsibilities.
Kelley served 16 years in the Air Force, eventually making the rank of Major.
After 16 years of serving his country, Kelley was separated from the Air Force due to budget cuts. He wanted to continue serving people so he applied for a position with the Oklahoma City Police Department. He applied in February and was rushed through the process to get into the academy in May 2012. He was highly qualified with all his experience from the Air Force and his education. Kelley had earned a master of business administration while in the Air Force.
Kelley was doing great with his academy training.
He was at the top of his class and one of the best runners in the group. In the last phase of training, the very last test in combat training, Kelley was injured and never regained consciousness. His brain injury was massive and kept bleeding overnight.
Kelley passed away on October 13, 2012.
Kelley had been registered to be an organ donor for years. He and his wife, Elke, had it in their will to be organ donors. Through Kelley’s donation six lives were saved. ”Kelley saved several lives and I know that is exactly how he would have wanted it.”
In May 2014, Kelley was being recognized as a fallen officer and Elke had the wonderful experience of meeting Kelley’s heart recipient Ralph Howell. Ralph and his wife, Barbara, attended the national memorial. “Ralph had a huge smile on his face and Barbara and I just cried and hugged,” remembers Elke. “It was the best part of the memorial, meeting Ralph and Barbara for the first time. I am so glad Kelley was recognized for his service, but Kelley’s heart was there.”
“It is hard to believe he is gone; it has been nearly two years and I miss him every day. Kyle is a spitting image of his father,” said
Elke. “The kids are strong and brave and have been dealing with this well. Kelley would be proud of them. Kyle and Alesia have good memories of their dad and I want those memories to stay with them.”
“Kelley was such an inspiring person; he would have wanted to inspire people with his story,” explains Elke. “So I hope that people reading this will take time to register as an organ donor.”