Died January 18, 2004
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Assigned to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, based at Fort Carson, Colorado
Died on January 18, 2004 from injuries sustained two days earlier when an IED struck his vehicle near Samarra, Iraq.
Kelly graduated from Paschal High School in Fort Worth in 1985 and attended Tarleton State University for one year, playing on the college’s football team, before enlisting in the Army in 1987. At first he trained as an infantryman but was eventually promoted to drill sergeant. He volunteered for duty with the Special Forces in 1990 and served as a combat diver, a free-fall parachutist and a jumpmaster. Kelly did one tour of duty in Afghanistan and was serving his second tour in Iraq when he was killed.
In a letter from Kelly released to the public by his family, he wanted to encourage the soldiers who still have a job to do. An excerpt from his letter home reads:
“If y’all are reading this, then I am on my way to help do my part to ensure the future security of our great nation. I don’t take this charge lightly or with a cavalier attitude, rather with a resolute heart and a clear conscience. I am strongly convinced that what we are doing is just and worthy of all that could be spent in the effort. I am not afraid and neither should either of you be.” He ended the message with thoughts of his family. “If anything untoward should befall me, please insure that the qualities you raised me with get passed onto my children. I love you both very much and intend to see you soon!”
With almost 17 years of service, Kelly was awarded several awards and decorations during his service, and was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, Legion of Merit and Purple Heart.
MSG Kelly Hornbeck was 36 years old from Fort Worth, Texas
Original portrait was presented May 4, 2009 to Kelly’s parents, Jeff and Camille Hornbeck, during a special reception held at the corporate offices of The American Fallen Soldiers Project.