S.D. Kelsey Collection
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Credit: S.D. Kelsey Collection, Northeast Historic Film. U.S. Air Force plane readying for takeoff, ca. 1951-1953.
Credit: S.D. Kelsey Collection, Northeast Historic Film. Korean citizens at work, ca. 1951-1953.
Primary Format and Extent
film (2,725 ft.) : si., b&w and col. ; 8 mm.
Collection Date Range
1942 - 1961
The S.D. Kelsey Collection contains of 12 reels of 8 mm. film shot by Straughan Downing Kelsey, Sr. from 1942 to 1961. The Collection depicts the life of a military family, including weddings, baptisms, birthday parties, horse riding, airplanes, air shows, football games, Christmas mornings and Easter egg hunts. The Kelsey Family moved often, and footage offers glimpses of a variety of cities in the United States and Europe, including: West Point Military Academy graduation ceremonies, aerial views of the Hudson Valley and Niagara Falls, scenes of Steve Kelsey's time at St. Paul's Preparatory School in Concord, New Hampshire, London and Paris street scenes in 1959, bullfights, and folk dancing in the streets of Spain. The Collection contains Korean War footage of harvesting crops in a small village, practice bombings, and german shepherds practicing commands. Notably, S.D. Kelsey captured John F. Kennedy greeting soldiers during his first visit to France in 1961.
Biographical/Historical Notes
Straughan Downing Kelsey, Sr. (July 10, 1917 – January 18, 2000) was a 1941 graduate of West Point Military Academy who went on to serve as a pilot in World War II and the Korean War. The following obituary can be found in the S.D. Kelsey Collection File, along with obituaries and photographs of his wife, Eileen Fee Kelsey, and son, Lt. S.D. Kelsey, Jr. (Steve), who was killed in action during the Vietnam War.

Straughan Downing Kelsey, Sr.
West Point 1941
Died in Rockledge, Florida – Interred in Arlington Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia
10 July 1917 – 18 January 2000

The life time journey of Straughan Downing “Jack” Kelsey, from the time he graduated from high school in 1934 until his final retirement in 1997, is a genuine American success story.
In those 63 years, he achieved all of his goals: a distinguished military career in peace and war; a happy, successful family life; and rewarding business ventures. Jack's basic character and personality can be seen as that of a patriot with a burning sense of mission, that big smile, and those friendly blue eyes.
Born in Newport News, Virginia, Jack was the younger son of Dr. Harry Ray and Novella Bart Downing Kelsey. He spent a memorable part of his childhood in Salter Creek, knee-deep in mud, catching sand crabs and other crustaceans. Dr. Kelsey, a prominent veterinarian, gave Jack an early love of animals, horses in particular. Jack's mother instilled in him a love of God and daily prayer that sustained him throughout his life. She was the softness in his life.
At age 16, Jack's sense of patriotism and his love of horses led him to join the Virginia National Guard, where he could learn to soldier and ride at will. Two years later he enlisted in the Regular Army at Fort Monroe, Virginia. There, in addition to his daily duties as a Coast Artillery soldier, he attended the West Point Preparatory School under the watchful eyes of four demanding West Point graduates. Through sheer determination and diligent study, he won one of the 23 fiercely competitive nationwide appointments made in 1937 to the Military Academy.
As a popular member of the “Black Class of '41,” Jack wore stripes as our regimental supply sergeant, played football his Yearling and Cow years, and rode the Army mule at football games as a firstie. During all four years he never missed a cadet hop or a “hall water carnival.” Academically, he stood 95th among the 424 graduating classmates. Upon graduation, Jack was assigned as a commander of the Led Horse Platoon, “F” Troop, 10th Calvary, otherwise known as the Buffalo Soldiers. His epic-1,000 mile march with his small but red-clay-covered unit during the Louisiana maneuvers prompted him to boast, “I never lost a horse.” When the 10th Calvary was disbanded, Jack transferred to the Army Air Corps and was posted to flying school in California.
Soon thereafter he rekindled a romance with, and in 1942 married, Eileen Elizabeth Fee of Brooklyn Heights, New York. Their marriage was blessed with three beloved children, and disrupted by four separate departures for extended wartime duty. Of the three children, son Steve, according to his platoon sergeant in Vietnam, “died like a Marine!” while leading a patrol in the Delta Region in 1967. Marianne and Lisa married and extended the family with a total of six grandchildren and seven great-grand-children. The Kelsey's divorced in 1974.
After flight school, Jack flew his B-26 to Europe and joined classmate Dick Travis's squadron, the 3223rd Bomb Group, in England. Thirty-two months later, he rotated home as a distinguished combat pilot. In the following years, Jack was an instructor at West Point and the Air Command and Staff School; commanded the Taegu Air Base in Korea while flying combat missions at night and in turbulent monsoon weather; and served in key positions with the Air Force Headquarters Staff, the National Security Council and Headquarters, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) where he was responsible for planning all NATO exercises. His last mission took place at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio where he served as Chief of Staff of the Foreign Technology Division.
In 1963, Jack retired from military service and operated S.D. Kelsey Jewelist in Melbourne, Florida. In 1974 he married Betty Geisbert Brown from Frederick, Maryland. Together they started Florida Gemological Laboratories in Winter Park, Florida. Throughout his gemological career he earned the highest professional titles: graduate gemologist; master gemologist appraiser; and senior member of the American Society of Appraisers. On numerous occasions he was retained as an expert witness in court cases involving gems and gemology.
In 1986 Jack and Betty sold their second jewelry store and moved to Banner Elk, North Carolina, where they bought and managed the 37 acre Blue Ridge Blueberry Farm. Together they became experts in the cultivation of high-bush blueberry bushes and Fraser Fir and Blue Spruce trees.
The farm was highly successful but was sold in 1993 after Jack's hip operation. They returned to Florida and settled at the Indian River Colony Club in Melbourne.
Jack died after an accidental fall. He died as he had lived – proud, independent, loving his God, his family and fellow man. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors near his son's grave.
In the West Point 50-Year Book, Gold '41, Jack wrote, “As a military family we ask for no greater glory, no higher honor, than to have served our country and our dear comrades.” History and our sentiments say: “Jack, you always have been an inspiring example for your thriving family and many admiring friends. As you make your permanent change of station we honor you, miss you, and celebrate your remarkable journey through life.”

Marianne Kelsey Orestis, General Joe Reed, General Jack Norton
October 2002

Northeast Historic Film
Access is restricted; consult repository for detail.
Condition Governing Reproduction and Use
Authorization to reuse and/or reproduce must be obtained from Northeast Historic Film. See http://www.oldfilm.org/research for more information.
Items in this collection: 11
Showing 1 - 10 of 11:
1) [S.D. Kelsey--home movies] Reel 1
REEL ONE 1942-1944 The scene opens with pre-marriage expectations. The date is May 27, 1942. The location, Post Chapel, Lemoore Army Flying School, California. The time, 12:30PM....more
2) [S.D. Kelsey--home movies] Reel 2
REEL TWO 1943-1946 Stevie's first Christmas, is the opening scene. Daddy is at war. Mother and Stevie are still living in Brooklyn and laughing and hugging each other under the Ch...more
3) [S.D. Kelsey--home movies] Reel 3
REEL THREE 1948 The 1948 football season game between arch rivals Army and Navy is seen followed by an after game party where the men and women, all officers and their spouses, cr...more
4) [S.D. Kelsey--home movies] Reel 4
REEL FOUR 1947-1948 The reel opens with a birthday party featuring Stevie and myself, with me in a pink bow and Stevie in a sailor suit. Mother always took care with her appearance...more
5) [S.D. Kelsey--home movies] Reel 5
REEL FIVE 1947 West Point Military Academy graduation ceremonies, 1947. The precision, grandeur and military discipline is never more on display than at a West Point graduation cer...more
6) [S.D. Kelsey--home movies] Reel 6
REEL SIX 1950-1951 Reel Six is all taken at Clovis Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Stevie is 7 ½ and I am 5 years old. The opening scene Daddy shot at the base air fi...more
7) [S.D. Kelsey--home movies] Reel 7
REEL SEVEN 1952-1954 LISA MAKES HER DEBUT It is Easter, 1952. We are having an egg hunt at our home in downtown Fairview, Alabama. My clearest memories stem from this house. I w...more
8) [S.D. Kelsey--home movies] Reel 8
REEL EIGHT 1954-1958 Lisa is seen at the tender age of two. She is just a toddler and the love of Mother's life. We have moved from Lake Worth, Florida to Sleepy Hollow, Fairfax C...more
9) [S.D. Kelsey--home movies] Reel 9
REEL NINE 1951-1952 the Korean War Life during war in Korean village; the year 1951. Army trucks and personnel in the streets and the countryside has been laid waste by the desola...more
10) [S.D. Kelsey--home movies] Reel 10
REEL TEN 1958-1961 In 1957 Daddy was told he had been transferred to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, (SHAPE) Paris, France. The only person he told was his son, Stevie,...more
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