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Frederick C. A. Kellam gave his life in Normandy, in the desperate early hours after our forces landed from the sea and the air. He went in by air, leading his parachute infantry battalion to seize and hold two key bridges until relieved by ground reinforcements. He did the job, and in doing it, paid the price of a soldier.
The biographical information could be that of any of hundreds of others who have brought honor to the Long Gray Line. Born at Pettit Barracks in the Philippines, where his army doctor father was stationed, he grew up in Texas after his father‚??s untimely death. With his mother and sister; he lived at different times in Brackettville (near old Fort Clark) and in San Antonio. After a year of preparatory school in Washington, D.C., he secured a presidential appointment to the Military Academy, entering with the Class of 1936 on July 1, 1932. After a normal cadet career, he was commissioned in the Infantry on graduation. Until 1939 he served with the 23d Infantry at Fort Sam Houston. He was graduated from the Infantry School, Regular Course, in 1940, served briefly in the 1st Infantry in the 1940 maneuvers, and then did a two-year tour with the 14th Infantry in Panama. He returned to Benning as an instructor in 1942, and shortly thereafter completed parachute training. He served in several parachute outfits, graduated from C.&G.S.S., Fort Leavenworth, and went to the North African Theater in 1943, in the 505th Parachute Infantry. He took part in the aerial invasions of Sicily and Italy, and then moved to England in command of his battalion. He participated in the aerial operations in Normandy on June 6, 1944. He was killed in action the same day. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star, with the following citation:
"For gallantry in action on 6 June 1944 near...France. Landing in the scheduled drop zone on D-Day, Major Kellam assembled and organized all available troops of his battalion and personally led them through enemy held territory to their initial objective. Heedless of danger from intense artillery, mortar and machine gun fire. Major Kellam moved among his men, and by his courage and aggressiveness instilled within them the determination to withhold the numerous counterattacks from a numerically superior enemy. In moving to a more advanced point, from which to better direct his troops, Major Kellam lost his life. His gallantry and devotion to duty inspired his men to successfully complete their mission and aided materially in the success of the Airborne Troops".
As a result of this action a span over the Merderet became known as ‚??Kellam's Bridge‚??.
Those are the facts. But they paint an inadequate picture of Caesar Kellam. I saw him first, galloping along Rhode Island Avenue on his way to school, his gait as Texan as his wide gray hat. The grin on his face that day became a familiar sight in the years that came after. That grin came all the way out from inside. There never was a warmer-hearted, more tolerant, more generous file.
West Point came hard to Fred. To him academics were an ordeal, and a continuing one. By determination and hard work he won through to graduation, while many men who ranked him in the early months fell by the way. The 10th and 11th Division sinks have harbored Caesar on many a night long after Taps, while he listened for the Tac and battled against entfopy and stress-strain relationships. He sacrificed many of those scarce leisure hours to study, and his effort paid off when the General of the Armies handed him his sheepskin on June 12, 1936.
Those of us who knew him best as cadets will always remember his barrack-room rendition of "El Rancho Grande", with ballet steps to match. As yearlings we frightened the new plebes with "Just wait, Mister, until Mr. Kellam gets out of the hospital!" And no one enjoyed their subsequent pleased surprise more than Fred. His halr-breadth connections with the Assembly bell were famous. His specialty was getting to bed just on the right Bide of Taps, and he worked it down to the finest of sciences. Hardly a man in ‚??C‚?? Company was not in Caesar's debt for favors cheerfully rendered. The Hundredth Night C.Q. tour he took over tor me was typical. He was a devout Catholic, and his life reflected the depth of his religious beliefs. From over two years In the same room, I was honored with his full friendship, and there could be no finer friend.
Fred‚??s service after Graduation was noteworthy because of the additional friends it brought him. In the summer of 1945, in a billet In Manila, someone mentioned "Caesar", and six men in a group of seven had known him. That gathering was not unusual. Each had his story of Fred, and they all gave richness to the picture‚??a good oflicer, with a strong feeling for duty, honesty, and leadership, a streak of generosity a yard wide, and a genius for bringing an affectionate smile to the faces of people who speak of him. Their stories crowd each other‚??when Caesar built the golf course at Fort Sam...when Caesar made his first jump...when I saw Caesar in Bizerte in ‚??43...
On September 16, 1942, Fred was married to H61fene Houssiere, of Jennings, Louisiana. His son, Michael James, was born October 10, 1943, six months after his father had sailed for North Africa. They are now living in San Antonio, where young Michael‚??s mother promises to raise him to be a more patriotic Texan than his Dad, if such a thing can be done. Fred's mother, Mrs. Mary Kellam, the friend of many of us in our cadet days, lives In the same city. His only sister, Betty, now the widow of John P. Tom-have, Col., Air Corps, Class of '39, was a pretty and familiar figure at Cullum Hops.
Life was pleasant to Fred. He lived it that way. Yet few men have worked harder to attain a goal than he did to win his commission. Few men have given so freely of themselves to make life happier for their friends. And Fred was repaid In the admiration and affection of all who knew him.
‚??J. B. L.