Cheraw, South Carolina, US
United States Marine Corps
CPL, Marine Helicopter Squadron 1
Marana , US, 04/08/2000
Marine Lance Corporal Kelly S. Keith was killed along with 18 others on April 8, 2000 when the MV-22 Osprey Tilt rotor aircraft that was conducting a training mission in support of Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL) went down at the Marana Regional Airport in Marana, Arizona.
During the mission, the crew and Marines conducted Non-combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO) exercises as part of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course, with Marines embarking and disembarking the aircraft. The mission was conducted at night utilizing night vision goggles and forward looking infrared radar to enhance night operational capability. This mishap aircraft was part of the Multiservice Operational Test Team, based at Patuxent River, Maryland, but was temporarily attached to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron-1 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona.
Kelly Keith graduated from Cheraw High School in Cheraw, SC in 1996 and was presented the “Spirit of the Brave” award in honor of his progress at Cheraw High School. After Kelly’s passing, Cheraw High School renamed the award “The Kelly Keith Spirit of the Brave”. Each year this carved brave representing the Cheraw Braves High School logo is presented to a student by Kelly’s mother, Donna Harter. It is the most prestigious prize at the annual academic award ceremony
Additionally, a portion of highway 52 through the Cash Community in Cheraw, S.C. has a new name. It’s the “US Marine Corporal Kelly Keith Memorial Highway”
Kelly’s mom called the Marlboro County Representative, Doug Jennings, to request this portion of highway 52 be named after her son, Kelly. Rep. Jennings stated, “I’d be honored to bring this before the House of Representatives in Columbia, SC.” The resolution was forwarded to the Department of Transportation and the Highway Dedication for the 8 mile stretch of highway was held on June 23, 2001, in honor of Cpl Kelly S. Keith, USMC.