Sen. Thune: Woodrow Keeble, a hero among heroes

The following was submitted by Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota), one of the backers of legislation to authorize the Department of Defense to issue a Medal of Honor to the late Woodrow Wilson Keeble.

On a day in October 1951, in the vicinity of Kumsong, North Korea, U.S. forces were engaged in a pitched battle. All of the officers of G Company were either wounded or killed during intense fighting against a well entrenched enemy.

Under extreme conditions, one of South Dakota’s native sons turned the tide in battle. Master Sergeant Woodrow Wilson Keeble, a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe, voluntarily led the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Platoons in three successful assaults on enemy positions.

Master Sergeant Keeble led the charge armed with only a few grenades, a rifle, and a keen sense of duty. He then single-handedly eliminated three four-man pillboxes, which were reinforced and extremely difficult to approach.

While making these heroic charges, Keeble was severely wounded with at least five separate injuries to his chest, both arms, and both legs. However, his heroic actions saved many lives.

For his bravery in combat, Master Sergeant Keeble was decorated with the Silver Star, the Bronze Star First Oak Leaf Cluster, the Purple Heart with the Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Army’s second highest commendation – the Distinguished Service Cross. Keeble was then recommended for the highest commendation any member of the Armed Services can receive - the Congressional Medal of Honor. Unfairly, he never received it.

Because of the time that has passed, fixing this oversight requires congressional action. While first serving in the House of Representatives, I began an effort to get Master Sergeant Keeble’s Distinguished Service Cross upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

After a great deal of effort, Congress recently approved legislation, which I co-sponsored, that allows the Secretary of Defense to recommend that President Bush award Master Sergeant Woodrow Wilson Keeble the Congressional Medal of Honor for his valiant service.

I will continue to work to ensure that this country finally pays its due respect by properly recognizing the valor of one of American’s heroes.

As a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, Master Sergeant Keeble was a hero among heroes. His leadership, sense of duty, and honor should be celebrated and remembered by all South Dakotans.

Appropriations Act:
H.R.2206 | Summary | Detailed Summary | President's Statement on Congressional Passage of the War Supplemental

Relevant Links:
National Native American Veterans Association -

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