Woodrow Wilson Keeble fought with valor and distinction in World War II and Korea, receiving many medals for his courage and wounds. However, it took more than 50 years for the US to award him the Medal of Honor for his unbelievable single-handed assault on Chinese troops that had repulsed three platoons multiple times. Unfortunately, Keeble — who passed away twenty-six years ago — would only get the recognition he deserved and his comrades in arms demanded posthumously.
Keeble became the first full-blooded Sioux recipient of the Medal of Honor for this action in Korea near the Kumsong River on October 15, 1951:
According to eyewitness accounts, while serving as the acting platoon leader of 1st Plt. in the vicinity of the Kumsong River, North Korea, on or about Oct. 15. 1951, Keeble voluntarily took on the responsibility of leading not only his platoon, but the 2nd and 3rd Platoons as well. …
Armed with grenades and his Browning Automatic Rifle, Keeble crawled to an area 50 yards from the ridgeline, flanked the left pillbox and used grenades and rifle fire to eliminate it, according to Sagami. After returning to the point where 1st Platoon held the company’s first line of defense, Keeble worked his way to the opposite side of the ridgeline and took out the right pillbox with grenades. “Then without hesitation, he lobbed a grenade into the back entrance of the middle pillbox and with additional rifle fire eliminated it,” Sagami added.
Hawkins said one eyewitness told him the enemy directed its entire arsenal at Keeble during his assault. “He said there were so many grenades coming down on Woody, that it looked like a flock of blackbirds.” Even under heavy enemy fire, Keeble was able to complete his objective. Only after he killed the machine gunners did Keeble order his men to advance and secure the hill.
His men all signed letters recommending Keeble for the Medal of Honor, but the Army lost them. Several attempts would be made over the next several decades to have Keeble get the highest military honor for this singular act of bravery, which left Keeble with multiple wounds. In fact, the Army report says that Keeble had 83 grenade fragments removed from his body.
John B. Dwyer wrote about Keeble last week at The American Thinker:
His proud stepson has said, “Woody epitomized our cultural values of humility, compassion, bravery, strength” and “the embodiment of the Sioux word woyuonihan” or honor.
The deeds of Woodrow Keeble and all of our heroes are timeless, and they serve as an inspiration to us all as we strive to lead exemplary lives.
Indeed they do. Keeble’s long and difficult road to the proper recognition of his valor outlived his own life, but as in Korea, Keeble’s courage prevailed in the end.
UPDATE: As Balidilocks notes in the comments, it’s incorrect to refer to MoH recipients as “winners”; it’s not a contest, although it must have seemed like one to Keeble and his supporters. I’ve edited the post to reflect this, and a big thanks to Baldilocks for the reminder.
Another commenter wonders why I wrote about this today after it had been on TV a couple of days ago. I missed this story when it first appeared at the end of February, and only heard about it late last night from Hot Air reader Greg. It’s well worth covering regardless of when it broke in the news.