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Sen. Johnson: Long overdue honor for Native soldier

"Few Americans will recognize Master Sgt. Woodrow Keeble's name, but he was an American hero who served in two wars and who deserves our nation's most prestigious recognition.

I first became aware of Keeble's bravery in 2002 after being contacted by members of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe who were requesting that his Distinguished Service Cross be upgraded to the Medal of Honor. The Medal of Honor is our nation's highest military honor, and while it is awarded by Congress, the Department of Defense determines the qualifications and eligibility for the decoration.

Keeble, a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe, was an Army veteran of both World War II and the Korean War. For his service, he was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross.

The last decoration was awarded for his actions near Kumsong, North Korea, in October 1951. After many days of fighting in the bitter cold, and though he was wounded, Keeble single-handedly took out three enemy machine gun emplacements.

The first-hand accounts of his actions that day read like something out of an old Hollywood movie. What he did was real, and his bravery in the face of enemy fire was so remarkable that the men in his company twice submitted recommendations that he receive the Medal of Honor.

In both cases, the recommendation was lost."

Get the Story:
Sen. Tim Johnson: A humble thanks to a deserving soldier (Indian Country Today 4/27)

Related Stories:
Medal of Honor sought for Sisseton-Wahpeton vet (02/28)