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More than a half a century after repeated acts of extraordinary courage in battle, Master Sgt. Woodrow Wilson Keeble will be awarded, postumously, the Medal of Honor.  Master Sgt. Keeble is the first full blooded Dakota to awarded the Medal of Honor.  The Dakotas are a part of the Siouan tribal family.  Link to Dakota tribal website below.

While his comrades submitted paperwork recommending him for the medal twice -- curiously the recommendations were lost both times.  Hmmmmm.

I've looked through the intertoobz for a full story on Keeble and it appears that has the best details.  

Keeble is one of the most decorated Soldiers in North Dakota history. A veteran of World War II and the Korean War, he was born in 1917 in Waubay, S.D., on the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Reservation, which extended into North Dakota.

Keeble fought in the horrible hand-to-hand combat on Guadalcanal.  His ferocious courage rallied the men of Company I, 164th Infantry around him.

The Sioux have a word for that kind of bravery, according to [Russell] Hawkins [Keeble's step-son] - wowaditaka. "It means don't be afraid of anything, be braver than that which scares you the most." Keeble personified the word according to fellow Soldiers, and earned the first of four Purple Hearts and his first Bronze Star for his actions on Guadalcanal.

Keeble remained in the army and served with the 1st Platoon, Company G, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Division when the Korean Conflict erupted.

[O]n 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.

In an official statement 1st Sgt. Kosumo "Joe" Sagami of Co. G said, "All the officers of the company had received disabling wounds or were killed in action, except one platoon leader who assumed command of the company." The company's mission was to take control of a steep, rocky, heavily fortified hill.

Following three attempts with all three platoons, which sustained many casualties, Keeble began a solo trek up the hill to take out the machine gunners who remained in the pillboxes.  His defense against a tremendous assault was a few grenades and his Browning Automatic Rifle.  Only after he successfully eliminated the threat did he command the platoons forward.  Incredibly, Keeble sustained 83 shrapnel wounds in that attack and still performed as a leader.

Following his discharge, Keeble remained active in Veteran's affairs, particular those regarding disabled veterans.  He was considered a positive well-liked guy, and yet, his life took a heartbreaking turn.

In later years, Keeble fell on hard times and was forced to pawn all his medals. He had one lung removed, and in the months and years following the surgery suffered more than a half dozen strokes that Hawkins said eventually left him speechless. "But his mind remained sharp, and he was the same man inside."

He died in 1986.  

Since 1972, Keeble's family has fought the bureaucracy to upgrade his Distinguished Service Cross to a Medal of Honor.  In the end, it took an Act of Congress.

Finally, on March 23, 2007, North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan introduced a bill, cosponsored by Senators Kent Conrad (ND), Tim Johnson (SD) and John Thune (SD), authorizing the president, "To award the Medal of Honor to Woodrow W. Keeble for his acts of valor during the Korean conflict." Congress passed the bill in early December 2007


In just a couple of minutes, President Bush will award the Medal of Honor to the family of Master Sgt. Woodrow Wilson Keeble.  Thank you for your service, sir.  You are with your many comrades now.  Peace and blessings to you and your family.

Newsfromindiancountry offers more to the story.  h/t to Abra Crabcakeya

Dakota Indian Tribe History
Update:  h/t Meteor Blades for proper identification of Master Sgt. Keeble's tribe.  

h/t towhitewidow for the following links:
local story on Keeble's award

Message from Sen. Johnson's website

affidavit of a comrade who served with M.Sgt. Keeble

Originally posted to gchaucer2 on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 11:31 AM PST.

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