Who Is Kelly Beamsley?Updated: January 3, 2023
When I transitioned from the Army National Guard to the Navy Reserve Iast year, I was pretty shocked to learn that readiness NCOs would be a thing of the past. You handle a lot of your own administrative and personnel work in the Navy Reserve, and it’s not easy.
I remember sitting across from a personnel specialist when I checked into my Navy Reserve Center (NRC) as he rattled off all the acronyms for websites, systems and web portals I’d need to keep my career on track.
I must have looked as lost as I felt.
He finally stopped, pulled out a sticky note and wrote “Google Kelly Beamsley” on it.
But who is Kelly Beamsley?
You should have seen the eyes of Active-duty when I explained how Kelly Beamsley is the Force that binds our Reserves together. pic.twitter.com/qYIltLBGgE
— Thomas Jenkins (@Clim8Resilient) February 1, 2020
Inquiring minds wanted to know, but no one had a real answer.
I tracked down the real Kelly Beamsley – a Navy veteran with a nomadic streak, whose desire for transparent processes inspired him to build the hyperlink portal we all know and love today.
Here’s what I found out about the mystery man.
Kelly Beamsley graduated high school in 1993 and enlisted straight into the Navy as a seaman recruit (E-1).
After recruit training, his first duty station was Joint Base Pearl Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii. He made Petty Officer Third Class within his first four years while balancing night classes at Hawaii Pacific University.
In 1998, he joined the Navy Reserve, earned a promotion to Petty Officer Second Class and applied for a Direct Commission.
The Navy’s competitive Direct Commission Officer (DCO) program requires a rigorous application process, including board deliberations that are deliberately opaque.
The board selected Beamsley, and he commissioned in 2000. He spent the next two years as a recruiter, determined to make the process more understandable for his recruits.
“I created KellyBeamsley.com out of my own frustration from going through the Reserve DCO application process for two years,” Beamsley wrote in an email.
That frustration turned into 140 web posts devoted to processing DCO applicants, plus a few more pages consolidating all the information and links new DCO officers would need to get started.
“My recruiting command was not a fan in the beginning,” Beamsley said. Then a string of anthrax attacks that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack forced government and military officers to take more mail precautions.
All I know is if it weren’t for Kelly Beamsley I’d have been gone years ago.
— David Reynolds (@Aubie_13) May 8, 2021
To get DCO applicants their paperwork, recruiters could use FedEx or refer their candidate to Kelly Beamsley’s website.
By the time he left recruiting in 2003, sailors were referring each other to Beamsley’s site.
His site continued to grow by word of mouth, and when Kelly deployed to Kandahar he was surprised when a sailor who saw his nametag stopped him to say thanks.
Hey! You helped me get my DCO Commission!” the sailor said.
“Glad to be of service!” Kelly replied.
Beamsley began downsizing his site as recruiting command’s DCO processes evolved with the digital era.
Eventually, he trimmed more than 140 web pages down to a single page listing all the links reserve sailors need to keep their careers rolling.
Beamsley retired from the Navy Reserve in 2017 as a Lieutenant Commander. Now he calls himself a “road scholar.” He has visited over 100 countries and is usually trekking back and forth across the United States in his van.
More than 5,000 people still visit his site every day, and he frequently updates it from the road.
“This is my continued way of giving back to the service which has been a large part of my life,” Beamsley said.
“My long-term plan for KellyBeamsley.com is to continue supporting Navy members with easy-to-find web links. The site is my dedication to the men and women of the United States Navy who have served and who are presently serving to protect our nation’s freedom.
If Kelly weren’t enjoying his retirement traveling and doing whatever I’d suggest him for SECNAV. He’s done more for the NR than any single person.
— Bill Parthun (@Bparthun) February 1, 2020