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Mac is back: Former head of North Forsyth High's JROTC joins sheriff's office
Mac Kelly 1 062619 web
Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman (left) swears in Mac Kelly, who led North Forsyth High School’s Marine Corps JROTC cadet program for 23 years before stepping down in May.

A new member of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office should be pretty recognizable to North Forsyth High School students, faculty and alumni.

Mac Kelly, who led North’s Marine Corps JROTC cadet program for 23 years before stepping down in May, was recently sworn-in by Sheriff Ron Freeman and will begin his time with the department serving at the Forsyth County Jail.

“Mac Kelly is a no-brainer,” said Freeman. “He’s got a long history in this community of really being a great mentor toward men and women, as well as being involved in the community. I have a lot of young deputies in the jail who work there who are just beginning their careers. Some of them have actually been under his command as a JROTC commander.”

Prior to coming to North Forsyth, Kelly served in the Marines and spent time in Vietnam, the Arab-Israeli War, Cuba, Hawaii, Scotland and the demilitarized zone in Korea, among many other places.

Kelly, who could not be reached for comment, retired in 1994 and came to North in 1996, where was normally addressed by his rank: major.

As a member of the sheriff’s office, he will start out as a deputy at the jail, which is where all non-post-certified officers start, but Freeman said his experience would be invaluable for young officers.

“Deputies do a whole host of different jobs, not just guarding inmates and those kinds of things. He’ll learn like any other deputy,” Freeman said. “Our hope is that he provides some senior mentorship.”

Freeman said he spoke with Kelly about coming onto the force before his decision to retire and said Kelly’s son works as a deputy and is heading to the police academy next month.

With Kelly’s extensive experience teaching students how to do to military-style drills complete with marching, presenting colors and flipping rifles, Freeman said Kelly was the “perfect person” to bring together a new sheriff’s office honor guard, which Freeman said he wants to be “one of the state’s best.”

“We’re working really hard on creating and setting up what we hope will be a top-notch honor guard program,” Freeman said, “and that is right up Mac’s alley and his skill set.”

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