“A U.S. Marine’s Medal Of Honor”
“The President of the United States…takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to Lance Corporal Miguel Keith, United States Marine Corps: in Quang Ngai Province, Republic of Vietnam…8 May 1970, Lance Corporal Keith was seriously wounded when his platoon was subjected to a heavy ground attack by a greatly outnumbering enemy force. Despite his painful wounds he ran across the fire-swept terrain…while completely exposed to view, proceeded to deliver a hail of devastating machine gun fire against the enemy.
Determined to stop five of the enemy approaching the command post, he rushed forward, firing as he advanced. He succeeded in disposing of three of the attackers and in dispersing the remaining two…a grenade detonated near Lance Corporal Keith, knocking him to the ground and inflicting further severe wounds. Fighting pain and weakness from loss of blood, he again braved the concentrated hostile fire to charge an estimated twenty-five enemy soldiers who were massing to attack…During this valiant effort he was mortally wounded…”
That was nineteen-year-old Miguel (Hernandez) Keith’s last day of life. Thanks to the United State Navy, Lance Corporal Miguel Keith’s (LCpl, USMC) name will live forever, starting with Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer’s announcement that the Navy’s newest United States Naval Ship (USNS) will be named for the Vietnam War hero, making it the second Navy vessel named for a Vietnam War Medal of Honor awardee. The first was a destroyer named for U.S. Marine Sergeant Alfredo Gonzalez. https://timesofsandiego.com/military/2017/11/04/nasscos-next-ship-to-be-named-for-marine-corps-medal-of-honor-recipient/
The USNS LCpl Miguel Keith is being built in San Diego at the NASSCO shipbuilding yard which has been building Navy ships since World War Two. That is fitting because it was in San Diego, at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD)that he went through boot camp. Keith, by the way, was his step-father’s name; his birth name – Hernandez.
Born in San Antonio, Texas, he was raised in Omaha, Nebraska. There he joined the Marines. Like U.S. Marine recruits before him, his time was split between classrooms and the Grinder, the massive drill field on which hundreds of thousands of Marines have been marched into exhaustion until they reacted automatically to simple orders, reactions that would later save lives. There, in the “Old Corps,” they were also rewarded with “The Smoking lamp is lit.”
At the end of 12-14 weeks of Boot Camp, hundreds of Marines parading past the Grinder reviewing stand looked like and felt like a well-oiled precision machine. That feeling would stay with them the rest of their lives, notwithstanding the well-known, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”
One might ask, was what Keith did in Vietnam on his last day the result of his training at MCRD or later at Camp Pendleton’s infantry training? I went through the same training at the same places and I have no idea if I could do what Keith did.
There might be a clue in where he was born, San Antonio, Texas.
Also born in the San Antonio area (including Edinburg, TX) were Medal of Honor Mexican American recipients – WWI Soldier David Barkley, whose mother was Mexican, WWII soldiers Staff Sgt. Lucien Adams, Master Sgt. Jose Lopez, the second most decorated soldier in World War II — Tech Sgt. Cleto Rodriguez; and, Vietnam War fighting men — Sgt. Santiago Jesus Erevia, MSgt. Roy Benavides and Marine Corps Sgt. Alfredo Gonzalez. http://www.homeofheroes.com/e-books/mohE_hispanic/list.html
Thirteen percent of 60 Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients are from San Antonio. Is there something in San Antonio’s water?
The ship-naming announcement comes just weeks after the Navy commissioned the USS Rafael Peralta, the destroyer DDG-115, in San Diego named after Navy Cross recipient Sgt. Rafael Peralta, United States Marine Corps, who died in the second battle of Fallujah, in Iraq in 2004; Peralta was a Mexican citizen when he died.
The Marine Corps recommended Peralta for the Medal of Honor for his grasping an exploding grenade to his chest, taking the full force of it and saving the lives of his fellow Marines; a civilian review board rejected the award.
These civilians ruled that Peralta couldn’t have voluntarily grasped the grenade to his chest. Former Marine Captain, now Congressman Duncan Hunter has tracked the armored vest Peralta was wearing when he died, and it is irrefutable proof that the grenade exploded in his chest, not off to the side as the civilian skeptics believe. Congressman Hunter is pursuing upgrading the awarded Navy Cross to a Medal of Honor. http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/military/sd-hunter-peralta-20170206-story.html
The USNS Miguel Keith will hit the water in two years almost 50 years since the teenaged United States Marine from Omaha and San Antonio added one more chapter of bravery “above and beyond” to the 242 years since the U.S. Marines recruited their first Marine at Tun’s Tavern in Philadelphia on November 10, 1775. http://www.usmarinesbirthplace.com/Tun-Tavern.html