Thank You, Veterans: Honoring Our Own

Veterans Day, celebrated each year on November 11, was initially called Armistice Day, which marked the end of World War I on November 11, 1918. The war ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year. It was in 1954 that President Eisenhower first called it Veterans Day.

Today, we celebrate Veterans Day as a day to honor the men and women who served our country in the military in order to uphold the freedoms given to the citizens of our nation. We join with others in our great country by honoring all veterans and can think of no more appropriate way than to highlight several of our own. 

Meet Kele employees who proudly served our country. Join us in saying “Thank you” by leaving comments below. 

Ricky Ellis has been with Kele for 23 years. He is a Label Specialist. Ricky served in the Army for three years as a US Army PFC/E-3 Cannon Crewman/Field Artillery. He served at Fort Bliss and in South Korea. 

“Following the footsteps of my dad and two brothers, I joined the Army fresh out of high school in 1986. Being an 18-year-old, I was nervous, not scared, because I was heading to Fort Sill, Okla. to join my two older brothers. Being able to serve my country was a privilege. It picked up where my parents left off by teaching dignity, responsibility, discipline, etc. When I received orders to South Korea, it was quite a challenge. Guarding the DMZ (Korean Demilitarized Zone) and knowing your enemy was just yards away really opened my eyes.”

Stephanie Brower has been with Kele for 10 years. She is an Account Manager. Stephanie served in the Army for 18 months active duty and more than three years Ready Reserves. As a Private First Class, she served in Camp Hovey, South Korea.

“I learned a lot of interesting things from training. I spent five months in electronics training at Fort Sill, Okla., which eventually lead me to my current career. I met one of my best friends in basic training, and we still correspond and visit when we are able. I’m glad that I served even though my time was short. I learned self-reliance and physical limits; the importance of teamwork; and how important it is to be able to rely on and trust the people you work with.”

Quinn “Sully” Sullivan has been with Kele for more than four years. He is the Facilities & Safety Manager. Quinn served in the Marine Corps for four years as a Private First Class/Aviation Ordnancemen on the AV8BB Harrier. He served in Cherry Point, N.C.

“I joined the Marine Corps in 2007 with the intention of serving my country any way I could. I spent the next four years stationed at Cherry Point, N.C. with VMAT-203 working on the weapon systems for the AV8BB Harrier. I had the fortune of serving with a group of remarkable Marines and developing some of the best friendships I have ever had. I can honestly say I loved every day in the Corps. Due to injuries I sustained in the service, I was unable to continue past my first four years. While this was difficult to deal with when I first got out, I soon found myself working here at Kele. While I do not do the same thing here, I enjoy the people and the work just as much.”

Keith Freeman has been with Kele as the Outbound Distribution Manager since February 2016. Keith served in the Army for four years active service and two years in the Army Reserve. As US Army- SPC(P)/Generator Mechanic/TAMMS Clerk, he served in Bad Kreuznach, West Germany and Fort Carson, Colo.   

“During my tour in Germany, I was selected to be on the Inspector General team for V corp. I was responsible for inspecting all peripheral support equipment (generators, pumps, etc.) to ensure mission capable status. I was also selected to be on a 10-man team to compete in a NATO obstacle/skills completion, where my team placed second. I was also on the All USAEUR (US Army Europe) championship volleyball team. My time in the military had a huge impact in shaping the man I am today. It instilled in me the value of teamwork, integrity, honor, and commitment. I learned that the only true failure is to quit trying.”

Dan Randall has been with Kele as the Distribution Center Manager for six years. Dan served in the Navy for four years as US Navy 3rd Class Petty Officer Fire Control Technician Guns. He served aboard the USS Miller FF1091.

“I joined the Navy when I graduated high school. I was very thankful that I served in peacetime as the Vietnam troop withdrawal started within a month of my joining the service and completing boot camp. I served aboard the same ship for four years and was fortunate enough to serve with a great team. Our ship was affectionately dubbed the USS Never Home. Our Captain always told us that sailors belong at sea not in port. So, we went to sea a lot. I cruised the Mediterranean and the Caribbean and completed an eight-month NATO cruise with various NATO nations. We were able to cross-train month and experience life aboard their ships. All were very different from a Navy ship. As part of the NATO cruise, I became a Blue Nose. That signifies that we sailed above the Arctic Circle.  As I look back on my short career, it was a great opportunity for a kid from a small town in Iowa to experience the world for four years. I wouldn’t trade that experience or the exposure to other countries and cultures for anything.”

Bill Ward has been with MIControls since 2001 on the Sales Support team. Bill served in the U.S. Navy for three years of active duty and three years in the Navy Reserve. He was stationed in Long Beach, Calif. as an SK 3rd Class.

I joined the Navy right after graduating from high school. I was a 17-year-old young man looking for guidance at that point in my life, and the Navy provided the path to get me headed in the right direction. My job was to order supplies, manage and track ship inventory, and maintain accounting records.

The Navy also provided me with the opportunity to leave home in Portland, Ore. for the first time and travel on two WESTPAC (Western Pacific) tours. I met some great people along my journey who helped me grow and mature into the man I am today. My service was one of the best experiences of my life, and I’m thankful for all I was able to learn and achieve during those six years. The lessons taught to me about discipline, respect, effort, and hard work still greatly influence how I go about my personal and professional life.

Bryan Summers has been with Kele for four years and is a Distribution Clerk III. Bryan served in the Army. He completed basic training and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Sill, Okla. As a Private First Class, he was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, and later deployed to Kuwait.

“My experience in the Army taught me about diversity, how to get along with others from different backgrounds, and that blood isn’t the only thing that makes you family.”

Ryan Stemmerman has been with Kele as a Purchasing Agent for three months. Ryan served in the Coast Guard for nine years as a Gunnersmate 1st Class. He served aboard several Coast Guard Cutters.

“I joined the Coast Guard in 2006 after graduating high school. I specialized in major caliber weapons, including the MK75 76mm, MK110 57mm, and MK38 25mm weapons systems. I conducted advanced-level maintenance/repair on the weapons systems and gun mount training with personnel. I deployed to the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean on a regular basis, conducting counter narcotic and counter migrant operations. This kept illegal drugs and migrants off of American streets. I enjoyed my time in the Coast Guard and made many lifelong memories and friends. My job at Kele is nothing like my job in the Coast Guard, but I take many of the lessons I learned and apply them here daily.”