The Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor, first authorized by President Abraham Lincoln
in 1861, is the highest award for valor in action against an
enemy force, which can be bestowed upon an individual serving
in the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and
Coast Guard. To receive this rare honor, the President of the
United States must approve it after a long and rigorous consideration
process, and then the President presents it personally to the
recipient in the name of Congress. Since the birth of our nation
over 40 million Americans have faced combat, yet fewer than
3500 have received our nations highest honor for combat - the
Medal of Honor.
A Native American Hero's Biography
Master Sergeant Woodrow W. Keeble posthumously received the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony on March 3, 2008. He is the first full-blooded Sioux recipient
Date of Birth: May 16, 1917, Waubay, South Dakota
U.S. Army Service: WW II, Korean War
For his actions in combat, Master Sergeant Keeble received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, four Purple Hearts and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
Units of Service: North Dakota National Guard's 164th Infantry Regiment and G Company, 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division
Sergeant Keeble Before
An athletic man in his youth, Master Sergeant Keeble was being recruited by the Chicago White Sox when he was called to duty in WW II. Upon returning to North Dakota after the war, Master Sergeant Keeble taught at the Wahpeton Native American School, which he himself had attended after his mother passed away when he was a child. Master Sergeant Keeble was again called to service during the Korean War, where he notably volunteered as an individual augmenter from the 164th Infantry Regiment to deploy to Korea.
During the Korean War
When Master Sergeant Keeble returned from the Korean War, he resumed teaching at the Wahpeton School. Unfortunately, soon after his return he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which required the removal of one of his lungs. The surgery triggered a series of strokes leaving him speechless and partially paralyzed. Several months later4 his wife of 14 years, Nettie, passed away, leaving him to care for their young son, Earl. In 1967, Master Sergeant Keeble married Blossom Iris Crawford-Hawkins, the first Sioux woman to complete a Ph.D. program, including doctoral dissertation at the University of South Dakota. In 1982, Master Sergeant Keeble passed away. His valor on the battlefield was legendary. Friends, family and four U.S. Senators in North and South Dakota continued their pursuit for the Medal of Honor even after his death.
Master Sergeant Keeble On The Battlefield
His strength, size and prowess as a warrior led fellow soldier James Fenelon, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, who fought with Master Sergeant Keeble at Guadalcanal, to say, "The safest place to be was right next to Woody."
Master Sergeant Keeble's bravery in combat, leading soldiers, is beyond question. Of his call to duty, Master Sergeant Keeble said, "There were terrible moments that encompassed a lifetime, an endlessness, when terror was so strong in me, that I could feel idiocy replace reason. (Yet,) I have never left my position, nor have I shirked hazardous duty. Fear did not make a coward out of me."
Master Sergeant Keeble volunteered for duty when members of the 164th Infantry Regiment were called to fight in the Korean War. When asked why, he replied, "Somebody has to teach these kids how to fight." Master Sergeant Wedrow W. Keeble's Medal of Honor details, next.
Black Elk, Lakota Medicine Man
Latter Day Recipient of the Medal of Honor