The Wall That Heals, a touring Vietnam Memorial Wall replica and mobile education center, will be on display this November in Dare County, thanks in part to John and Chris Kelley Cimko and the General P.X. Kelley Memorial Fund they established at Outer Banks Community Foundation in 2021.
At age 53, General Kelley became the youngest Marine to be promoted to the rank of Four-Star General, serving as both Commandant and Assistant Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. Kelley’s remarkable career was characterized by his “personable and engaging” leadership style, his focus on innovation, his bravery on the battlefield, and the care he showed for those under his command.
A native of Boston, General Kelley attended Villanova University and was commissioned to Second Lieutenant shortly after graduation. He served across the globe with distinction in numerous assignments and deployments, including a year abroad with the Royal Marines. In 1965, Kelley deployed to South Vietnam where he commanded the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines. In 1970, he returned to Vietnam to command the 1st Marine Regiment. He was highly decorated for his service in Vietnam, earning the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit with Valor, and two Bronze Stars with Valor.
When General Kelley passed away at the age of 91 in 2019 the Marine Corps paid tribute to his remarkable life and career, noting that “his enduring legacy as Commandant was defined by his commitment to taking exceptional care of his Marines, re-instilling Marine Corps values, and modernizing the Corps for success on future battlefields.”
When General Kelley’s daughter Chris and her husband John relocated to Duck, NC from northern Virginia, they established the General P.X. Kelley Memorial Fund, a donor-advised fund, as a way to honor General Kelley and to perpetuate his legacy of unwavering compassion and care for servicemen and women.
Bringing The Wall that Heals to the Outer Banks was the first grant made from the General P.X. Kelley Memorial Fund. The grant provided a significant portion of the seed money to bring the exhibit to the Outer Banks. The grant was provided to the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council which is overseeing this remarkable project. The exhibit will help Dare County veterans, students, families, community members, and visitors experience the powerful memorial wall, learn about the lasting impact the Vietnam War had on our country, and pay tribute to the men and women who served and sacrificed there.
General Kelley’s daughter, Chris Kelley Cimko, recently commented on the grant, “My father understood too well the impact and lasting scars of combat. We are deeply honored that his memorial fund is playing a significant role in bringing The Wall That Heals to Outer Banks veterans, their families, and residents. We pray that The Wall That Heals will, indeed, bring healing and renewal to those who bear the scars of that terrible war.”
More information about The Wall That Heals and its stop in Dare County can be found at https://tinyurl.com/darencthewall23.
Endowment funds have been created over the years by individuals, families, businesses, nonprofits, civic groups, and government agencies for causes they are passionate about. All funds give money back to the community in grants or scholarship awards. Funds are created to memorialize loved ones, allow donors to give anonymously, build resources for unmet need areas, and much more. Anyone can contribute to Community Foundation funds or establish their own fund. Visit obcf.org/giving for more information or call the Community Foundation at 242-423-3003 to learn more.