By all accounts, Midland native Carl “Kelly” All was a good guy to know.
Although it has been nearly 53 years since the fresh-faced US Army Corporal was killed in action at age 20 on the Plain of Reeds, Kin Ton Doc Canal, located on the Mekong Delta in South Vietnam, residents and former residents of the towns of Midland and Jasonville remember the popular Shakamak class officer fondly.
“Oh, Kelly was a jolly good guy,” said former classmate Mary Buskirk. “Kelly was happy-go-lucky and everybody liked him.” All was the eighth service member from Greene County to lose his life in the unpopular conflict.
Buskirk graduated from MSD Shakamak High School with All, along with 72 other members of the Class of 1965.
“We made a 50-year grad float for a parade in 2015,” she recalled, “And we saved a seat on it for Kelly. His framed picture rode in his place.”
Buskirk, and anyone else who knew Kelly All, knew he was a talented and enthusiastic trumpet player.
“He loved to play, and he was so happy to play anytime,” Buskirk said. “You could hear Kelly playing all over Midland. Didn’t matter what street you lived on, you could hear him.”
All was born in Linton on June 30, 1947, to Carl Worden All and his wife, Sparkel Robertine (Jackson) All, and had three sisters, Debbie, Norma and Rita and a half-brother, Mike Fitzpatrick.
His high school years at Shakamak were good ones, and the charismatic All was a notable student, serving as a member of the school band and Latin Club and as a band officer as well as class officer. His senior year, All was voted “Senior Personality” and “Most All-Around” by his classmates.
“Kelly was one of my best friends,” said former classmate Don Woods. “We grew up in Midland and we were always at either my house or Kelly’s house. We played football together and hung around all the time. I remember he had this old Ford pickup and he’d come pick me up and off we would go, country cruising for hours. Sometimes he would drive his mother’s vehicle too, but we were pretty careful with that, so we didn’t do any back roads cruising then.”
Woods said he remembers All as a very intelligent young man.
“He got really good grades and he loved nothing more than an assembly where he could play his trumpet,” Woods said. “He was really into the band and being in band, and he was a really good player. He was so much fun to hang around with, because he had such a great sense of humor and he really loved to have fun.”
Woods said he voluntarily joined the service shortly after graduating from high school, but that freedom of choice was denied All, who was working in construction and attending ISU when he got a notice informing him he was being drafted into the US Army.
He began his Army service on July 24, 1967, and had risen to the rank of Corporal by the time of his death.
Woods remembers driving down to visit All while his friend was in basic training prior to his deployment to Vietnam.
“I visited him a couple of times, and I called his parents right after I got back,” he said. “They appreciated any news of him since they couldn’t really communicate with him much while he was in boot camp.”
He said that even though All was drafted, he was eager to serve his country like so many of his peers.
“Kelly felt guilty, seeing me go off to basic after enlisting, and knowing that so many boys were shipping out every day. He wanted to help, he wanted to serve. He dropped out of college without regret to serve his country. He probably wasn’t too thrilled to leave his wife behind, but we all had to make sacrifices then.”