FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — In the quiet halls of the U.S. Army Military Police Regimental Museum at Fort Leonard Wood’s John B. Mahaffey Museum Complex, the faces of 112 Military Police Corps Regimental Hall of Fame inductees stand out in contrast to the tan walls.
One of those Soldiers is former MP and Criminal Investigative Division Special Agent Sgt. 1st Class Robert Keiser.
In addition to a career as a cowboy and rodeo star in California, Keiser served 21 years in the Army. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in 2014, more than 60 years after he saved the lives of hundreds of Soldiers in 1950, on a battlefield in Korea — Keiser single-handedly cleared a blocked road of more than 20 disabled vehicles while under heavy machine-gun and small-arms fire. Despite being injured, after clearing the road, he stood in the cold water of a stream for an hour directing his division convoy to safety. The full order for Keiser’s DSC can be found here.
The DSC is the second-highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the Army for acts of extraordinary heroism.
The World War II and Korean War veteran spent his entire career with the MP Corps, retiring in 1965. When Keiser died in 2009, he was survived by his wife, Pamela, who presented the medal to the MP museum during a ceremony held Monday.
Pamela said she was inspired to donate her husband’s medal after visiting the museum in 2021. As she explored the exhibits, she noticed DSCs earned by Soldiers in World War II and the Vietnam War — but not the Korean War.
“I thought, ‘what a perfect time to donate this,’” she said. “I’m happy to do it, and if I hadn’t seen that they honored other recipients, it probably never would have come to my mind to donate it to the museum.”
Continuing the mission to have him recognized after he died was like picking up a torch — a mission she said couldn’t have been completed without the help of the MP Regiment. She said she chose to donate the medal because she doesn’t feel she can share his story as widely as the museum.
“I have his stuff, but I can’t (reach as many people),” she said. “My hope is that with this venue to share his story, others will see what he did.”
Pamela presented the award to U.S. Army Military Police School Assistant Commandant Col. Kirt Boston, who said adding the award to the collection serves as a sort of capstone — the museum had DSCs from an officer and a junior-enlisted Soldier, and now, thanks to Pamela, senior NCOs will be represented.
“You couldn’t ask for anything more,” he said. “The museum is going to find a special place to set up a display, so everyone can have the chance to see it and learn about this hero. We want his legacy and inspiration to continue.”
The donation is a perfect example of what the museum looks for when curating items, according to MP Museum Director Kathy West.
“We look for items that tell MP history and Soldier stories,” West said. “This (donated award) accomplished this in many facets. It tells a huge story and exemplifies what MPs do on the battlefield and how MPs have always been a combat multiplier in every war we have been involved in. It also embodies every single Army Value that all Soldiers try to live up to, so we are very, very grateful to receive this award and be able to add it to our collections.”
During the presentation, Pamela shared stories about her husband’s time in the Army with CID students in attendance. Even after all he had done in service to his country, Keiser was a Soldier for life until the end, she said.
“‘I was a Soldier; I am a Soldier; and I will always be a Soldier’ — that’s how he thought,” she said. “When the Army went into Iraq, he loved it — you could see it in his eyes that he wanted to be there so badly. If he could have volunteered, he would have.”
In addition to the DSC, Keiser earned two Bronze Stars, one with a “V” device for Valor, seven Good Conduct Medals and six Purple Hearts. He was inducted into the MP Corps Regimental Hall of Fame in 2014.
“He loved being an MP, and he wouldn’t have thought of himself as any different than anyone else, really,” Pamela said. “But he was bigger than life; he was huge.”