b. 16/05/1917 Waubay, South Dakota. d. 28/01/1982 Sisseton, South Dakota.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 20/10/1951 Kumsong, Korea.
Keeble was born on May 16, 1917, in Waubay, South Dakota, to Isaac and Nancy (née Shaker) Keeble. While still very young, he moved to Wahpeton, North Dakota, where his mother worked at the Wahpeton Indian School (now called Circle of Nations School). She died when Keeble was still a child. Keeble's father, who was too impoverished to feed his family, permanently enrolled Woodrow and his siblings in the school.
Keeble excelled in sports, especially baseball, and pitched the Wahpeton amateur team to 10 straight victories. He was being recruited by the Chicago White Sox when his Army National Guard unit was called up to serve in World War II. Keeble was called to active duty with his National Guard unit on February 10, 1941. In World War II, Keeble served with I Company of the famed North Dakota 164th Infantry Regiment. After initial training in Louisiana, the regiment carried out various orders in several West Coast locations before being deployed to Australia in preparation for operations in the Pacific Theater. Keeble's unit was assigned to the United States Army's Americal Division (23rd Infantry Division). The 164th Infantry landed on Guadalcanal on October 13, 1942, to help the battered First Marine Division, which had suffered heavy losses while clearing the South Pacific island of Japanese. The 164th regiment provided the first replacements for the 1st Marines, and although the new boys were green, the exhausted men heartily welcomed the North Dakotans—and their supplies.
After the battles on Guadalcanal, Keeble and the rest of the regiment participated in combat campaigns on the islands of Bougainville, Leyte, Cebu, and Mindanao. Following the Japanese surrender, the entire Americal Division landed in Japan and took part in the occupation of the Yokohama region. Keeble was discharged from the Army on April 11, 1946 after over five years of active duty, the great majority of which were spent overseas.
The 164th Infantry Regiment was reactivated on January 16, 1951 during the Korean War; they trained at Camp Rucker, Alabama. The summer and fall of 1951 were particularly deadly for both sides as the war moved into its second year. The 24th Division was in the central area of the Korean peninsula when, on October 13, 1951, the Division was called upon to take a series of steep mountains protecting a major Chinese supply depot in the town of Kumsong.
He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on December 20, 1952. The DSC was upgraded later to the Medal of Honor. Keeble was removed from front line duty to recover from his wounds and was discharged on August 26, 1952. Keeble returned to North Dakota after the Korean War and again worked at the Wahpeton Indian School. Soon after, he was afflicted with tuberculosis, which required that he undergo long-term treatment in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Surgeons ultimately removed one of his lungs, which triggered a series of strokes that rendered him speechless, partially paralyzed and unable to work for the remainder of his life. Nettie, his wife of 14 years, died the following year, leaving Keeble to raise their young son, Earl, alone.
Keeble fell on hard times and is said to have pawned his service medals. Nevertheless, and despite his disabilities, Keeble persevered. In 1967, he married Blossom Iris Crawford-Hawkins (born July 18, 1926), the first Sioux woman to complete a Doctorate of Education.
Keeble was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 4324 - Wahpeton, ND.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Master Sergeant Woodrow W. Keeble distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Sangsan-ni, Korea, on October 20, 1951. On that day, Master Sergeant Keeble was an acting platoon leader for the support platoon in Company G, 19th Infantry, in the attack on Hill 765, a steep and rugged position that was well defended by the enemy. Leading the support platoon, Master Sergeant Keeble saw that the attacking elements had become pinned down on the slope by heavy enemy fire from three well-fortified and strategically placed enemy positions. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Master Sergeant Keeble dashed forward and joined the pinned-down platoon. Then, hugging the ground, Master Sergeant Keeble crawled forward alone until he was in close proximity to one of the hostile machine-gun emplacements. Ignoring the heavy fire that the crew trained on him, Master Sergeant Keeble activated a grenade and threw it with great accuracy, successfully destroying the position. Continuing his one-man assault, he moved to the second enemy position and destroyed it with another grenade. Despite the fact that the enemy troops were now directing their firepower against him and unleashing a shower of grenades in a frantic attempt to stop his advance, he moved forward against the third hostile emplacement, and skillfully neutralized the remaining enemy position. As his comrades moved forward to join him, Master Sergeant Keeble continued to direct accurate fire against nearby trenches, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. Inspired by his courage, Company G successfully moved forward and seized its important objective. The extraordinary courage, selfless service, and devotion to duty displayed that day by Master Sergeant Keeble was an inspiration to all around him and reflected great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
BURIAL LOCATION: SISSETON CEMETERY, SISSETON, SOUTH DAKOTA.
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