In Memory

The Story Behind our Mission

In December, 2010 Kelly Mixon was killed in action in Kandahar, Afghanistan when his unit was attacked by a suicide bomber.  Others in the unit also died and the remainder were grievously injured, some requiring multiple surgeries over a two-year period.  It was a devastating event that deeply affected all of the soldiers' families.

 Kelly grew up in Nassau County, FL, graduated from Fernandina Beach High School and studied culinary arts at Florida State College at Jacksonville.  He worked as a sous chef on Amelia Island Plantation and was on the Jacksonville Jaguars drum line.  He loved drumming and in his spare time could be found in the FBHS band room helping drum students. His goal was to attend Johnson & Wales Culinary Institute and ultimately open his own restaurant. 

 Kelly was known for his big smile and great sense of humor.  He also had a strong desire to serve his country.  Following in the footsteps of his father and both grandfathers, he joined the military and was assigned to Afghanistan.  He was an expert shot and was trained as a sniper.  Kelly was home on leave for Thanksgiving with his family.  He was sorry he wouldn't be home for Christmas, but was half way through his 12-month deployment and making plans for his return to the states. It was a joy-filled day that none will forget.

 Kelly left the next morning to head back to Afghanistan.  Sadly, his unit was attacked a few days after his arrival.  Kelly was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for Bravery and the Purple Heart for Valor.

Before he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, just days before his 24th birthday, there was a funeral service in Fernandina Beach which over 800 people attended.

There was a great outpouring of support from both friends and strangers.  Kelly's parents were determined to find a way to honor their son's memory and bring joy to soldiers who would spend the holidays far away from home.  The first event was held one year after Kelly's death and is now in its sixth year as Trees for America's Troops ... a tribute to a young man who gave his life for his country and an opportunity to support those who still serve.  We ask that you join us in supporting this important mission.

Men and women from Nassau County have supported the United States of America's Military since the time of the American Revolution. We dedicate our mission in remembrance and gratitude to each and every one of those heroes from Nassau County.