March 03, 2008

Heroes

Today saw the honoring of two American heroes, one long past and one who has achieved a much deserved retirement.

Sgt Woodrow Wilson Keeble, a veteran of World War 2 and the Korean War was recommended TWICE for the Congressional Medal of Honor. The second time his entire surviving command signed a petition recommending he be awarded the honor.

It seemed the recommendation fell on deaf ears.

Keeble's postwar story was a sad one for many years. After working as a teacher he contracted Tuberculosis which precipitated several strokes resulting in his loosing the ability to speak. He then suffered the loss of his wife shortly thereafter. Sgt Keeble had to raise his children in poverty while disabled. His indomitable spirit served him well in civilian life as it had in Guadalcanal and Korea for he eventually got back on his feet, successfully raised his kids and remarried. His second wife was an impressive individual in her own right (the First Lakota woman to earn a PHD) and began the process of appealing his CMO award.

It turned out that the recommendation had not been rejected....it had been lost during the war when American forces were overrun. In 1972 the convoluted process was begun to get the award reinstated, but given the byzantine mess of Army and Congressional regulations it was not until today that President Bush awarded his family with the Medal he so gallantly earned. Keeble died in 1984.

Master Sergeant Woodrow W. Keeble
United States Army

Citation

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Master Sergeant Woodrow W. Keeble distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Sangsan-ni, Korea, on October 20, 1951. On that day, Master Sergeant Keeble was an acting platoon leader for the support platoon in Company G, 19th Infantry, in the attack on Hill 765, a steep and rugged position that was well defended by the enemy. Leading the support platoon, Master Sergeant Keeble saw that the attacking elements had become pinned down on the slope by heavy enemy fire from three well-fortified and strategically placed enemy positions. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Master Sergeant Keeble dashed forward and joined the pinned-down platoon. Then, hugging the ground, Master Sergeant Keeble crawled forward alone until he was in close proximity to one of the hostile machine-gun emplacements. Ignoring the heavy fire that the crew trained on him, Master Sergeant Keeble activated a grenade and threw it with great accuracy, successfully destroying the position. Continuing his one-man assault, he moved to the second enemy position and destroyed it with another grenade. Despite the fact that the enemy troops were now directing their firepower against him and unleashing a shower of grenades in a frantic attempt to stop his advance, he moved forward against the third hostile emplacement, and skillfully neutralized the remaining enemy position. As his comrades moved forward to join him, Master Sergeant Keeble continued to direct accurate fire against nearby trenches, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. Inspired by his courage, Company G successfully moved forward and seized its important objective. The extraordinary courage, selfless service, and devotion to duty displayed that day by Master Sergeant Keeble was an inspiration to all around him and reflected great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.



More here and here.


On the leatherneck side, today marks the retirement of one of only two Marines awarded the Navy Cross in Operation Desert Storm.

Citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Eddie S. Ray, Captain, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving as Commanding Officer, Company B, First Light Armored Infantry Battalion, Task Force Shepherd, FIRST Marine Division, in the Emirate of Kuwait on 25 February 1991. During the early morning hours of G+1 of Operation Desert Storm, an Iraqi mechanized division counter-attacked elements of the FIRST Marine Division in the vicinity west of the flame and smoke engulfed Burgan Oil Fields in Southeastern Kuwait. As dense black smoke shrouded the battlefield, an Iraqi mechanized brigade engaged the FIRST Marine Division Forward Command Post security forces. During the ensuing intense ten hour battle, Captain Ray repeatedly maneuvered his Light Armored Vehicle Company in harm's way, skillfully integrating his Light Armored Infantry weapons, reinforcing TOW's, and AH-1W Attack Helicopters to decisively defeat main Iraqi counter-attacks. Leading from the front and constantly exposed to large volumes of enemy fire, Captain Ray led swift, violent attacks directly into the face of the vastly larger enemy force. These attacks shocked the enemy, destroyed 50 enemy Armored Personnel Carriers, and resulted in the capture of over 250 Iraqi soldiers. Operating perilously close to the attacking enemy, Captain Ray's courage, composure under fire, and aggressive war fighting spirit were instrumental in the defeat of a major enemy effort and the successful defense of the Division Forward Command Post. By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, Captain Ray reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Colonel Ray has been heavily engaged in the current war in Iraq and now enters into a well deserved retirement.


Thank You Colonel!

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 09:54 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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