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Guardsman from Scituate is killed in Afghanistan

SCITUATE -- A member of the Massachusetts National Guard who had been in Afghanistan for less than two months was killed Wednesday during a mortar attack on his base.

Specialist Michael Jason Kelley, 26, of Scituate died Wednesday while unloading a helicopter, his father, Joseph Kelley said.

''He used to tell us that he could see the mortar rounds going off at night near the base," Joseph Kelley said. ''There were nine of them unloading a Chinook helicopter on Wednesday when insurgents just started firing mortar rounds on the base out of nowhere."

Michael Kelley, who as a civilian worked in sales for Nextel Communications Inc., volunteered to go to Afghanistan because he thought he would be safer than in Iraq, his father said.

Kelley, a radar technician for E Battery, 101st Field Artillery, Massachusetts National Guard, worked at a special forces base in Shkin, in eastern Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan.

Michael Kelley is the Massachusetts National Guard's first combat-related fatality in the war on terror, according to Master Sergeant Pallas A. deBettencourt. At least four other Massachusetts residents have died in Afghanistan since the war began.

In addition to his parents, Kelley leaves behind a brother, Shawn, and two sisters, Karianne and Colleen.

A memorial service and wake is tentatively scheduled for next Friday with burial on June 18, his father said.

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