Interview: Woody Keeble, a hero of two wars

Dorreen Yellow Bird of The Grand Forks Herald interviews Russell Hawkins about his late stepfather, Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Keeble, the most decorated soldier in North Dakota history.

Keeble, a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe, served in World War II and the Korean War. He received the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross award.

"Woody was honored as the most decorated soldier of North Dakota. Not the highest honored because North Dakota has about six or seven Medal of Honor winners," Hawkins says. "But Woody received 27 citations, ribbons and medals."

President Bush is set award the Medal of Honor to Keeble, who died in 1982, for his actions in the Korean War. Hawkins describes how his stepfather commanded a group to attack the Japanese, who outnumbered American soldiers:

"Alone, Woody was able to get into the trenches with the enemy soldiers and eliminated two trenches' worth. From there, he worked his way to the right of the enemy and took out the first bunker with a grenade. Then, he retreated back to his first line of defense, crossed to his extreme left and took out the second bunker with a grenade. Then he went back to the third bunker with a grenade and subdued the rest of the enemy with his rifle.

Woody was hit in the chest, both arms, right calf, knee, right thigh and left thigh. One eyewitness said he saw the chest bullet come out of his back.

That gives you an idea of the grit, determination, courage and fortitude that he had as an individual, which goes back to the roots when he helped fought 20,000 Japanese at Henderson field."

Get the Story:
Prairie Voices: A two-war hero (The Grand Forks Herald 2/25)
Russell Hawkins, superintendent, Sisseton Agency, Agency Village, S.D. (The Grand Forks Herald 2/25)

Related Stories:
Editorial: Medal of Honor for Sioux veteran (06/14)
Native veteran recommended for Medal of Honor (06/01)
Native veteran to receive replacement medals (5/29)
Sen. Johnson: Long overdue honor for Native soldier (04/28)
Medal of Honor sought for Sisseton-Wahpeton vet (02/28)