On October 3, 1918, Kelly ran through an artillery barrage, took out a German machinegun nest, and captured eight prisoners single-handed. Both the Army and the Marine Corps nominated him for their respective Medals of Honor, and both were approved, so he received both the Army and the Navy Medals for the same action.
It’s interesting to note that, of the 19 U.S. servicemen who have received two Medals of Honor, five of them received it for the same combat action. This was because, until 1919, both the Army and Navy Medals of Honor could be awarded to any serviceman, and which Medal the serviceman received was not dependent upon his branch of service, but rather the branch of service of the officer who wrote his recommendation. This happened during the First World War, where Marines were awarded the Army’s Medal of Honor because they were nominated by an Army officer in their chain of command. By 1919, the rules had changed so that no serviceman could receive more than one Medal of Honor, but that rule was rescinded in 2014.
One of his Official Citations:
“The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor (Army Award) to Private John Joseph Kelly (MCSN: 87666), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving with the 78th Company, 6th Regiment (Marines), 2d Division, A.E.F. in action at Blanc Mont Ridge, France, 3 October 1918. Private Kelly ran through our own barrage 100 yards in advance of the front line and attacked an enemy machinegun nest, killing the gunner with a grenade, shooting another member of the crew with his pistol, and returning through the barrage with eight prisoners.”
We honor you, John Kelley.