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Bluegrass Airman, state trooper awarded for valor

Master Sgt. Charlie Kelton, center, a member of the Kentucky Air National Guard 123d Airlift Wing Security Forces Squadron, was awarded the Kentucky State Police Citation for Bravery for valor in the line of duty when circumstances required him to exchange fire with a domestic violence perpetrator in Milton, Ky. (Courtesy Photo)

Master Sgt. Charlie Kelton, center, a member of the Kentucky Air National Guard 123d Airlift Wing Security Forces Squadron, was awarded the Kentucky State Police Citation for Bravery for valor in the line of duty when circumstances required him to exchange fire with a domestic violence perpetrator in Milton, Ky. (Courtesy Photo)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A traditional Kentucky Air National Guard member and State Trooper was awarded the Kentucky State Police Citation for Bravery for heroism as a civilian law enforcement officer.

Master Sgt. Charles Kelton, who serves as the Assistant Superintendent of Opera¬tions for the 123d Security Forces Squadron, was recognized for his actions on June 24, 2008, when he responded to a reported domestic assault in Milton, Ky.

Arriving on the scene, he discovered an injured woman and assisted in helping her get treatment.  After the victim was taken to a local hospital, Sergeant Kelton went to the perpetrator's residence where he witnessed the man retrieving a firearm. The Trooper quickly directed the establishment of a perimeter.

"The suspect then began firing rounds at the responding units for several hours," the award citation read. "Trooper Kelton attempted to initiate dialogue with the sus¬pect, but that only resulted in shots being fired directly at [him]."

Trooper Kelton could eventually see that the suspect was firing rounds from underneath a pickup truck. He returned fire with his M-16 rifle striking the assailant in the arm and chest. The injured suspect fled back into his residence as two fellow law enforcement officers arrived to provide support, the citation said. As the suspect advanced on them, he was fatally wounded.

Sergeant Kelton said it was the first time in 10 years that he'd taken direct fire on the job, though it is not uncommon for troopers to be required to use force in the line of duty.

"I was just trying to make it home to my family," said the husband and father, who resides in Bedford. "If they want to give me an award for that, it's great. But I was just doing my job."

The KSP Citation for Bravery is an honor bestowed on officers who "perform acts of bravery, without regard for personal risk, of clear and obvious peril above and beyond the call or risk of ordinary duty."

Sergeant Kelton, who is a member of KSP Post 5 in Campbellsburg, received the honor last summer. He has been a state trooper for 12 years and has served in the Guard for 21 years. He's been activated twice since 9/11 to military duty.

"It is a natural reaction to run away from danger. Law enforcement officers are trained to run toward danger and they do so without hesitation," KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer said of Sergeant Kelton and other award recipients. "We salute all those who have chosen a life that makes a difference."

Lt. Col. Robert Holdsworth, 123d Security Forces Squadron commander, said the award is a testament to the sergeant's courage and dedication to duty.

"We talk a lot about the quality of our Airmen. Master Sgt. Kelton is a Kentucky warrior who proved his courage under fire," Colonel Holdsworth said. "He's a tremendous asset to the Commonwealth as a State Trooper and Security Forces staff noncommissioned officer. He is a dynamic leader who contributes tremendously to our combat readiness as a unit."