Master Sergeant Woodrow W. Keeble
Korean War Veteran
Master Sergeant Woodrow W. Keeble will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony on March 3, 2008.
Spouse: Nettie Keeble (deceased) Blossom Keeble (deceased)
Children: Earl Keeble (deceased), Stepson Russ Hawkins, Stepdaughter Kathryn Akipa
Date of Birth: May 16, 1917 Waubay, South Dakota
US Army service:
For actions in combat, Master Sergeant Keeble received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and the Combat Infantryman Badge
Units of Service: North Dakota National Guard’s 164th Infantry Regiment and G Co., 2nd Bn., 19th Inf. Reg, 24th ID
Master Sergeant Keeble’s life before and after service in the Army:
An athletic man in his youth, Master Sergeant Keeble was being recruited by the Chicago White Sox when he was called to duty in WWII. Upon returning to North Dakota after the war, Master Sergeant Keeble taught at the Wahpeton Indian School, which he himself had attended after his mother passed away when he was a child. Master Sergeant Keeble was again called to service during the Korean War, where he notably volunteered as an individual augmentee from the 164th Inf. Reg. to deploy to Korea.
When Master Sergeant Keeble returned from the Korean War, he resumed teaching at the Wahpeton Indian School. Unfortunately, soon after his return he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which required the removal of one of his lungs. The surgery triggered a series of strokes leaving Master Sergeant speechless and partially paralyzed. Several months later his wife of 14 years, Nettie, passed away, leaving him to care for their young son Earl. In 1967, Master Sergeant Keeble married Blossom Iris Crawford-Hawkins, the first Sioux woman to complete a PhD program, including doctoral dissertation at the University of South Dakota. In 1982, Master Sergeant Keeble passed away. His valor on the battlefield was legendary. Friends, family and four U.S. Senators in North and South Dakota continued their pursuit for the Medal of Honor even after his death.
Master Sergeant Woodrow W. Keeble on the battlefield:
His strength, size and prowess as a warrior led fellow Soldier James Fenelon, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe who fought with Master Sergeant Keeble at Guadalcanal, to say, “The safest place to be was right next to Woody.”
Master Sergeant Keeble’s bravery in combat, leading Soldiers, is beyond question. Of his call to duty, Master Sergeant Keeble said, “There were terrible moments that encompassed a lifetime, an endlessness, when terror was so strong in me, that I could feel idiocy replace reason. (Yet,) I have never left my position, nor have I shirked hazardous duty. Fear did not make a coward out of me." Master Sergeant Keeble volunteered for duty when members of the 164th Inf. Reg. were called to fight in the Korean War. When asked why, he replied, “Somebody has to teach these kids how to fight.”