Army Veteran Woodrow W. Keeble is today's Veteran of the day.

During National Native American Heritage Month, today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Woodrow W. Keeble, a Korean War Medal of Honor recipient.

Woodrow Wilson Keeble was born May 1917, in Waubay, South Dakota, on the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Reservation. He moved to Wahpeton, North Dakota, and attended the Wahpeton Indian School, now called the Circle of Nations School.

In 1941, Keeble joined the North Dakota National Guard. He enjoyed playing sports and excelled in baseball. Keeble pitched for the Wahpeton amateur team before the Chicago White Sox recruited him. Before he could pitch professionally, the military called into active duty Feb. 10, 1941.

Keeble served with Company I, 164th Infantry Regiment. He trained in Louisiana before deploying to Australia to prepare for operations in the Pacific Theater.

On Oct. 13, 1942, Keeble’s infantry unit was the first to go to Guadalcanal to help the First Marine Division, which suffered heavy losses while fighting the Japanese. The 164th Infantry Regiment was the first Army unit of Dakotans to engage in an offensive operation against the enemy in any theater.

During the fighting, Keeble earned the first of four Purple Hearts and his first Bronze Star. Following World War II, he returned home to North Dakota and taught at his former school, Wahpeton Indian School.

On Jan. 16, 1951, Keeble volunteered to return to active duty for the Korean War when the Army reactivated the 164th Infantry Regiment. When his commanding officer needed several sergeants to deploy to the front lines, Keeble volunteered because he felt that he had a duty to teach the next generation of soldiers how to fight. The Army assigned Keeble to George Company, 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, as a master sergeant and platoon leader.

On Oct. 20, 1951, Keeble risked his life to save his fellow soldiers during the attack on Hill 765. Engaging in a one-person assault, he crawled through heavy enemy fire to throw grenades, ultimately destroying three enemy positions. His actions earned him a Distinguished Service Cross, a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and a Combat Infantryman Badge.

Keeble left the front line to recover from his battle wounds and discharged on Dec. 20, 1952. He then returned to North Dakota and resumed teaching at the Wahpeton Indian School.

Due to tuberculosis, surgeons had to remove one of Keeble’s lungs. The surgery instigated a series of strokes that left him partially paralyzed and unable to speak or work. His wife, Nettie, died the following year, leaving Keeble to raise their young son, Earl.

In 1967, Keeble married Blossom Iris Crawford-Hawkins, the first Sioux woman to receive a doctor of education.

Keeble passed away on Jan. 28, 1982, and is buried in Sisseton, South Dakota. On March 3, 2008, he received a Medal of Honor, an upgrade to his Distinguished Service Cross. Keeble was the first Sioux to receive a Medal of Honor.

We honor his service.


Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.


Contributors

Writer: Savannah Labbe

Editor: Essence McPherson

Fact checker: Enya Lowe

Graphic artist: Michelle Zischke

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2 Comments

  1. Erika November 3, 2021 at 8:10 pm

    A brave man who led an incredible life.

  2. Senior Veterans Care Network November 3, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    We honor the service of Woodrow Wilson Keeble.

Comments are closed.

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