MoH Winner Len Keller dies.

Discussion in 'Modern' started by Njaco, Oct 20, 2009.

  1. Njaco

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    #1 Njaco, Oct 20, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2009
    MEDAL OF HONOR: LEONARD B. KELLER - The Daily Nightly - msnbc.com

    LEONARD B. KELLER
    Private First Class, U.S. ARMY Company A, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division

    Leonard Keller had just turned nineteen when he was drafted in the spring of 1966. He completed basic training at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, went on to advanced infantry training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, then joined the 60th Infantry in Vietnam. When he arrived that summer, he experienced culture shock. The sights, sounds, and smells made him feel that he was on a different planet. His unit was stationed in the Mekong Delta. Keller’s days took on a predictable rhythm: going out “into the bush” by helicopter or boat for several days on a reconnaissance mission, then returning to base for a day of rest and relaxation, then out into the field again. But constant firefights with the enemy kept things interesting.
    On May 2, 1967, another U.S. infantry company was ambushed by the Vietcong in an area near the Ap Bac Zone, and Private First Class Keller’s unit went to the rescue. Soon after it was dropped off by helicopter, heavy fire erupted from enemy bunkers and snipers in surrounding trees. The killed and wounded from the other American company were sprawled on the ground. His own unit was also taking casualties. As he heard voices yelling, “Retreat!” Keller became angry and called out, “Let’s go get them!” to an American named Ray. The two of them charged the enemy. Carrying an M-60 machine gun and belts of ammunition looped over his shoulders, Keller killed a Vietcong soldier in his path. Clambering up onto a dike with Ray, he began a systematic assault on a series of enemy bunkers. First Keller laid down a base of fire, and then his comrade lobbed grenades into an enemy position. Then it was Keller’s turn to throw the grenades while Ray provided him with covering fire. After they had taken out three more North Vietnamese positions, they continued their ferocious two-man fight against the enemy despite continuous withering fire. They were able to destroy four more North Vietnamese bunkers before their assault carried them into the tree line beyond the bunkers. There, enemy snipers who had been exacting a heavy toll on the American force climbed down from their firing positions and ran away. Eventually, the entire North Vietnamese force broke ranks and withdrew. Out of ammunition, Keller returned to his unit and helped load wounded GIs onto helicopters for evacuation.
    In the summer of 1968, Keller, now a sergeant, was back in the United States when he was informed that he was to receive the Medal of Honor. However, he left the Army that August having heard nothing more about the medal. He assumed that there had been a mistake or the brass had changed its mind. Soon thereafter he was on the West Coast when a team of Secret Service agents contacted him and told him he had to go to Washington, D.C. Leonard Keller was awarded the Medal of Honor at the White House on September 19, 1968. It was a moving occasion for him and for President Lyndon Johnson as well. Keller noticed that tears coursed down LBJ’s cheeks throughout the entire ceremony.
    Keller married a woman who had served in the Navy. Today, he himself works for the Navy in Pensacola, Fla.

    Local Medal of Honor recipient dies at 62 | pnj.com | Pensacola News Journal

    Leonard "Len" Keller, 62, died at Sacred Heart Hospital after the accident outside the Fleet Reserve Association in Milton.
    Keller served for two years in Vietnam, then worked for 28 more as a civilian in the supply department at Pensacola Naval Air Station.
    Capt. Bill Reavey, commanding officer of Pensacola NAS, called Keller's death "a national loss."
    "Len was a very humble guy. What he did was just amazing," said Reavey, who spoke at Keller's retirement party in December.
    "If you met him and then you read his citation, you'd never know it was him. What he did was super human. He saved numerous lives that day."
    Keller served as an Army sergeant in Vietnam. President Lyndon Johnson presented him with the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony in 1968. The Medal of Honor is the nation's highest military honor. It is presented by Congress for risk of life in combat beyond the call of duty.
    Keller received the medal in recognition of "conspicuous gallantry" as he and another soldier came under fire from the Viet Cong in a number of enemy bunkers and in nearby trees.
    "Sgt. Keller quickly moved to a position where he could fire at a bunker from which automatic fire was received, killing one Viet Cong who attempted to escape," according to the citation. "Leaping to the top of a dike, he and a comrade charged the enemy bunkers, dangerously exposing themselves to the enemy fire," according to the citation. He then charged a second bunker, killing its occupant, and five more bunkers, killing the enemies in them.
    "During their furious assault, Sgt. Keller and his comrade had been almost continuously exposed to intense sniper fire as the enemy desperately sought to stop their attack," the citation reads.
    After his ammunition was exhausted, Keller returned to his platoon to assist in the evacuation of the wounded. "His acts are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army,'' the citation states.
    Upon retirement, Keller placed his actions firmly in the midst of those performed by his fellow soldiers. "I'm not any different than any of the other people who were there," he said in an interview. "I just received a medal. A lot of guys out there deserved medals too, they just didn't make it."
    Sunday's crash occurred at 3:18 p.m. as Keller was leaving the fleet center on his Harley Davidson three-wheeled motorcycle, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Keller made a sharp left and "was traveling too fast for the turn and left the paved surface of the road," the Highway Patrol reported. The motorcycle overturned several times and came to final rest on top of Keller. He was not wearing a helmet.
     
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    What a shame, another great figure leaves too early....
     
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