Suffolk University Senior Meghan Kelly Returns Home from War in Iraq

1/14/2004

Meghan Kelly has returned home – for the very first time.

“This is all so exciting,” explained the 25-year-old Suffolk University senior, who received an emotional and spirited welcome from family, friends and members of the media on Sunday, December 28, 2003. “It feels great to be back and see everyone and my new home.”

While Kelly was in Iraq for nearly a year as a member of the United States Military Intelligence team, her family moved from Franklin to Bellingham. When she arrived during the holiday season, her new home was appropriately decorated in patriotic red, white and blue colors with a yellow ribbon draped across the driveway. People of all ages threw confetti, smiled proudly and waved American flags.

Almost every Boston television station was on hand to capture her thrilling arrival, as well as many daily newspaper reporters and photographers, including one representing the Associated Press.

She was treated like a star, a hometown hero for everyone to cherish and embrace.

“It was an amazing scene,” said Kelly, who has conducted lengthy interviews with Newsweek and National Public Radio since returning home. “The whole atmosphere was a bit overwhelming.”

And what does Meghan think of her new home?

“The house is really nice and I love my room,” she said.

“I knew if she didn't like how her room looked, she couldn't complain because there were too many people around,” laughed Beth Kelly, Meghan's mom.

Sgt. Meghan Kelly represented Bravo Company, 325 Military Intelligence Battalion of Waterbury, Connecticut. Her skills as a translator of the Arabic language proved to be vitally important, particularly since she was directly involved with the interrogation of prisoners of war and other civilians within the former government of Iraq.

“She is very proud to have served her country,” said Chris Kelly, Meghan's dad and a 1976 Suffolk University graduate. “She has transformed herself into a solid soldier and a grown woman at the same time.”

Meghan Kelly graduated from New Milford High School in Connecticut in 1996, an honor roll student ranked 89 out of a class of 261. Upon receiving her diploma, she attended the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) in Monterey, California, a place where she studied the Arabic language for many hours on a daily basis.

After graduating from the DLIFLC in 1998, Kelly entered her freshman year at Suffolk. During that time, she also joined the United States Army Reserve. In the aftermath of 9/11, she was called into active duty, stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina from the end of October 2001, until September 2002.

She then returned to Suffolk, attending classes and reuniting with friends as a Communication & Journalism major. She maintained a 3.5 grade point average and was on schedule to graduate in May of 2003, before she was called into active duty once again earlier last year.

In Iraq, she shared a tent with seven other women military personnel, sleeping on a cot and dreaming of better days ahead. In September, a mortar landed within yards of her tent, killing a soldier from her Army reserve unit.

“It's still kind of very difficult to talk about,” said Meghan. “I feel sorrow for the troops who didn't make it home with us.”

Sgt. Meghan Kelly now plans to continue her college education at Suffolk (she is three credits short from graduating) and hopes to pursue a career in the public relations field. Her parents greatly appreciate how flexible Suffolk has been over the years, helping their daughter each step of the way to fulfill her educational goals and supporting her military responsibilities.

“Suffolk has been wonderful through all of this,” said Beth Kelly. “The school has embraced Meghan and her professors have been great.”

Robert Rosenthal, Chairman of the Communication and Journalism Department at Suffolk University, feels that Kelly has learned a wide range of valuable lessons that extend beyond the classroom walls.

“The work Meghan has done interacting with people from all over the world has been tremendous,” said Rosenthal, who serves as Kelly's adviser. “Her experiences in the military will help her upon graduation. She has a very bright future.”

When Meghan returned home, she had a friend with her, Staff Sergeant Kurt Keller of Boonton, New Jersey. They met two years ago when both were called to duty after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and their friendship has turned into a wonderful romance.

In fact, when interviewed by Donovan Slack of The Boston Globe on December 28, Keller said he is dying to tell Meghan: “I love you more than life itself. Will you be my wife?”

The next day, Beth Kelly, with The Boston Globe in hand, woke her daughter who was getting her first peaceful night's sleep in almost a year. “You have to read this and you have to read it out loud,” said Beth, jumping with joy.

“I just started crying, bawling, really,” said Meghan.

Soon afterwards, family and friends began calling, each of them wanting to know her answer.

“It's yes,” said Meghan. “Yes, yes, yes.”

A festive homecoming, going back to college and a wedding proposal. Happy New Year.

“I'm excited,” said Meghan Kelly, “to get back to my civilian life again.”

Suffolk University, located on Boston’s historic Beacon Hill, is a comprehensive, global institution distinguished by its teaching and the intellectual contributions of its faculty. Suffolk offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs in more than 70 areas of study. Its mission is to provide quality education at an affordable cost for students of all ages and backgrounds. Suffolk has a combined enrollment of more than 7,500 full-time and part-time students in its Law School, College of Arts and Sciences, and Sawyer School of Management.

Back to News »