February 27, 2008

Sioux to get Medal of Honor

First Native American receives US gallantry medal 26 years afterThe first full-blooded Sioux Indian to be awarded America's highest gallantry medal is to be honoured at the White House next week--26 years after his death and a quarter of a century after the start of a campaign to have his courage on the battlefield recognised publicly.

Woodrow Wilson Keeble, named after the US president in office when he was born on a poor North Dakota reservation in 1917, will finally be credited posthumously with the Congressional Medal of Honour for his actions on a Korean ridge in 1951.
Why Keeble is being recognized:When conflict broke out in Korea, he volunteered again and found himself in action as a master-sergeant with the 19th Infantry Regiment, leading a platoon against the Chinese Communist "volunteers" who flooded into the country to repel allied troops operating under a UN mandate.

When his rifle company found itself pinned down and taking casualties from a Chinese-held hill at the Kumsong River, Keeble launched a one-man assault to break the deadlock, using all his native hunting skills to take advantage of the fire-swept ground.

While US mortars concentrated on the Chinese infantry in trenches, the six feet-tall master-sergeant worked his way up the ridge, using grenades and rifle fire to clear three machine-gun nests.

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