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The mural is the result of local residents reaching out to the City requesting a tribute for Captain Kelley, a Medal of Honor recipient who grew up in West Roxbury. Mayor Wu expressed her gratitude for those involved in making this artistic vision a reality. "Public art helps us highlight the values and achievements of our communities, telling the story of sacrifices and leadership that helped form Boston's neighborhoods and our country. Commemorating Captain Tom Kelley's decades of military service adds to the fabric of West Roxbury's character," she said.
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Captain Kelley was raised in West Roxbury and served in various roles in the U.S. Navy for 30 years before retiring from service. In 1969 in Vietnam, he was leading eight river assault boats when one craft became disabled. He ordered the remaining seven craft to circle the disabled boat and put his own craft directly in line with fire when it was struck by a rocket propelled grenade. He suffered head injuries as a result of shrapnel but managed to move all boats to safety before calling for medical assistance himself. For his bravery he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Nixon at The White House on May 14th 1970. After retiring from service he worked for both Department of Defense and Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services as Secretary respectively.
Boston Veterans Services Commissioner Robert Santiago praised Captain Kelley's selfless devotion to his country saying "Medal of Honor recipient Captain Kelley is an American hero deserving of this dedication." Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts & Culture added that public art plays an important role in preserving public memory and they are proud to support a mural that uplifts legacy of Boston native and Medal of Honor recipient like Captain Kelley.
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Funded by Mayor's Office Of Arts And Culture, Roslindale resident Laura DeDonato Wiatt painted this mural located on side Of Boston Ale House at corner Of Centre And Hastings Streets In West Roxbury which depicts Captain Kelley And Not-Yet-Built USS Thomas G Kelly . Work On Mural Began First Week Of July After Dan Hudson ,West Roxbury Liaison In Mayor's Office Of Neighborhood Services Was Approached By Local Residents About Their Desire To Tribute Captain Kelly . Artist Laura DeDonato Wiatt expressed her honor at painting portrait Of Local Hero saying "It Was Great Working With Dan Hudson ,Boston Ale House And People Of West Roxbury . During Process Of Creating This Painting I Learned So Much About Captain Kelly Through Speaking To People Who Know And Respect Him ." Dan Hudson ,West Roxbury Liaison For Mayor's Office Of Neighborhood Services Said "As Mayor's Liaison To West Roxbury It Is My Distinct Honor And Pleasure To Help Celebrate Captain Kelly With Offices Of Arts And Culture And Veterans Services . I'm Beyond Grateful For Patience And Care That Local Artist Laura DeDonato Wiatt Put Into This Piece ,And I Look Forward To This Mural Being Point Of Pride In West Roxbury For Generations To Come ."
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