He enlisted as a private in the United States on May 15, 1917 in Portuguese Royal, South Carolina. On September 5, 1917, he joined the 7th Company, 6th Regiment, at Quantico, Virginia, and on September 12, 1917, he was transferred to the 78th Company. On January 19, 1918, his regiment embarked from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the United States Ship Henderson and arrived at Saint Nazaire, France on February 5, 1918.
Private Kelly participated in engagements at Château-Thierry, Saint Mihiel, Blanc Mont and the Meuse-Argonne offensive.
He also participated in the march to the Rhine River and in the occupation of the Coblenz Bridgehead, from November 17, to December 12, 1918. Pvt Kelly was honorably discharged, with character "Excellent" at the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia on August 14, 1919.
lieutenant was pinned on his chest by General John Jay Pershing, Commander-in-Chief, American Expeditionary Force, while Pvt Kelly was with the Army of Occupation. With him in line, waiting for other decorations were United States. Army Major Generals Dickman, Muir, Haan and Hines.
His foreign decorations include the French Croix de guerre with Bronze Star.
French Croix de guerre with Palm. Montenegrin Silver Medal for bravery. The French Médaille militaire.
And the Italian Croce al Merito di Guerra.
At the time of his death on November 20, 1957, his address was listed as Chicago, Illinois and he is buried at All Saints Cemetery, Des Plaines, Illinois.
Private Kelly ran through our barrage 100 yards in advance of the front line and attacked an enemy machinegun nest, killing the gunner with a grenade, shooting another member of the crew with his pistol, and returning through the barrage with eight prisoners. Private Kelly ran through our own barrage one hundred yards in advance of the front line and attacked an enemy machine-gun nest, killing the gunner with a grenade, shooting another member of the crew with his pistol and returned through the barrage with eight prisoners.