Captain (Dr.) Kelliann Leli
Hometown: Parlin, New Jersey.
Died: November 27, 2020.
Unit: 60th Healthcare Operations Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, California.
Dr. KelliAnn LeliBy Nancy Green
Maj. Kelliann Leli
Jan. 7, 1990 — Nov. 27, 2020U.S. Air Force Captain Dr. KelliAnn Leli passed away on Friday, Nov. 27, 2020, in a tragic accident, while deployed to the Middle East at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.
Kelli was born to the Seaman family on Jan. 7, 1990, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and grew up in Parlin, New Jersey.After high school, Kelli was accepted to the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado. The first in her immediate family to serve on active duty, Kelli graduated USAFA in 2012, earning her commission, as well as a coveted slot to medical school. She graduated from Rutgers Medical School in 2016 and went on to complete her Family Medicine Residency at Travis AFB. Upon completing her residency, Kelli was chosen to remain at Travis AFB as faculty, an easy choice, since Kelli had already been named the base’s 2018 Family Medicine ‘Resident of the Year’.
Kelli was a family doctor who cared and loved everyone. Whether it was an Air Force family patient or an immediate family member, Kelli would often receive a random text with a photo, asking, ‘What is this? Does it look alright?’ She lovingly used her expert medical knowledge to care for others, putting her Catholic faith to practice as a Family Medicine Doctor. Kelli loved healing the sick, mending broken bones and helping patients through difficult times. As a physician, she particularly loved delivering babies and helping their families through the challenges of birth. She proudly brought 73 new lives into the world.
Kelli’s love of newborn patient care was shared with her love of caring for animals, particularly her dog, Liberty. Kelli’s caring personality started early at the Air Force Academy, where she cared for the USAFA mascot, the falcon, as a member of the Falconry Team. Kelli arrived at Travis AFB, her first ‘real’ Air Force assignment, in 2016. Her husband, a KC-10 Instructor Pilot, was also assigned to Travis in 2013. The couple loved Travis AFB, Suisun Valley and the adjoining Bay Area. Being stationed close to their California family, the couple hoped to set the record for the ‘longest time on station’ at Travis.
Kelli first met her husband in Honolulu in 2010, while both were cadets. And ever since, Hawaii was the couple’s favorite travel spot. Since their marriage in 2015, Kelli’s aloha spirit led the couple to vacation in Hawaii seven times in five years. She also loved Italy, traveling there twice in the last two years. Kelli brought her Italian travel experiences home, and despite the time-consuming pressures of studying and practicing medicine, Kelli still made time every Sunday for wine and Italian food. She loved Suisun/Napa/Green Valley wines, particularly Caymus Cabernet, which was quite a step up from when she first met her husband while drinking White Zinfandel with an ice cube in the glass.
Kelli’s love of wine paired nicely with her love of Christmas. Her deployed unit acknowledged that ‘Kelli’s love of Christmas was like no other.’ While it was hard to match the freshly cut 11-foot tree she and her husband erected every year in their living room, her goal while deployed was to have the largest private tree in the Middle East. That goal was confirmed as Kelli prepared to decorate her deployed room, including the 6-foot Christmas tree she had delivered to the desert via Amazon. In addition to her love of Christmas, Kelli was also passionate about Alfa Romeo. She always had a lead foot driving her ‘Alfa Rosso’ (red) Stelvio. She was hard to keep up with, driving to the base every day. The turbocharged engine may have been a lot for some, but not Kelli. She loved ‘cruising’ on the back roads of Suisun Valley with her family in an Alfa Romeo. Kelli always got to pick which Alfa to drive on Sunday, having three to choose from.
Like an Alfa Formula One driver, Kelli would zip home after work to enjoy buffalo sauce with salt and vinegar chips, her absolute favorite. Her husband would come home, walk in the door, smell the zing of buffalo sauce, and know, ‘Kelli’s been eating.’ The smell of buffalo sauce was just one of the countless memories Kelli and her husband shared. The couple was a perfect match and almost the same person. While completing the required preparation prior to Catholic marriage, Kelli and her husband were required to complete a ‘Pre-Cana Compatibility Questionnaire.’ Scoring a perfect 100% match, their priest jokingly asked, ‘In all my years, I have never seen a perfect score. Did you two cheat?’
Due to guidelines and protocols, a private rosary for family will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, at St. Michael’s Chapel, 200 Hackett Ave., Travis AFB. A private Mass of Catholic Burial will also be held at the chapel the following day, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, at 11 a.m. Following the Mass, Kelli will be laid to rest at the Rockville Cemetery in Suisun Valley.
There will be a street-lining service on base as the family departs Mass, on the way to Rockville Cemetery. Following guidelines, family and friends are invited to pay respects to Kelli at a public visitation from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, at Vaca Hills Chapel Funeral Home, 524 Elmira Road, Vacaville.
EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 205
WHEREAS, United States Air Force Captain Kelliann Leli, 30, of Parlin, New Jersey, died on November 27, 2020 in a non-combat related vehicle incident at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates; and
WHEREAS, Captain Leli was a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and earned her commission in 2012 before completing her medical program; and
WHEREAS, Captain Leli was a physician assigned to the 60th Healthcare Operations Squadron at the Family Medicine Clinic at David Grant United States Air Force Medical Center on Travis Air Force Base in California; and
WHEREAS, Captain Leli was on her first deployment, stationed at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel as part of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing; and
WHEREAS, Captain Leli was a beloved member of our New Jersey family whose presence will be greatly missed by her family, her friends, her fellow servicemembers, and by the people of New Jersey whom are grateful for her service; and
WHEREAS, it is with immense sadness that we mourn Captain Leli’s sudden passing, and extend our deepest sympathy and gratitude to her family; and
WHEREAS, it is appropriate to honor the exemplary character, outstanding achievements, and cherished memory of Captain Leli and to mark her passing;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, PHILIP D. MURPHY, Governor of the State of New Jersey, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and by the Statutes of this State, do hereby ORDER and DIRECT:
1. The flag of the United States of America and the flag of New Jersey shall be flown at half-staff at all State departments,
offices, agencies, and instrumentalities during appropriate hours on Thursday, December 3, 2020, in recognition and mourning of Captain Kelliann Leli.
2. This Order shall take effect immediately.
GIVEN, under my hand and seal this
2nd day of December, Two Thousand and Twenty, and
of the Independence of the United States, the Two
Hundred and Forty-Fifth.
/s/ Philip D. Murphy
/s/ Parimal Garg
Chief Counsel to the Governor️