By Sean Kirst
In the early 1990s, while attending college and working at a nursing home, Michael Kelly moved in with his elderly grandfather, Patrick Crotty, on Cumberland Avenue in Buffalo. It was a move that made sense. They enjoyed each other’s company, and Michael did not expect anything to feel like a big surprise.
That was before he looked with awe on what amounted to a quiet family shrine, in the back room.
The space was crowded with photos and memorabilia involving Lt. Thomas “Jimmy” Crotty, Michael’s great-uncle and a Coast Guard officer whose remains were never returned after he died in a Japanese prison camp during World War II.
Michael had never fully realized how Jimmy assumed such iconic meaning to the Coast Guard. Yet Michael's grandfather deflected any talk about his youngest brother, whom he helped to raise after their father died while the seven Crotty children still were young.
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