Private, United States Army
Coincident with these campaigns against Hassan (in the Philippines), the 28th Infantry commenced operations in the vicinity of Taraca in Mindanao. Guerilla conditions prevailed. The troops established a fortified camp close to the disturbance area and sent out an outpost composed of Sergeant Stevens and Privates Bowser, Burke and Kiethley.
The men of the outpost cleared a small area in the dense jungle and settled down to an heroic and terrible sentry duty. In the early morning hours, the rush came. Twenty krismen leaped from the jungle. In the first savage attack, all of the men except Private Kiethley were hacked to death on the kris. Kiethley received a terrible wound.
This young American soldier performed an almost impossible feat of valor. Gathering the rifles of his dead mates, he fell back slowly, pouring a steady and accurate fire to keep the Moros at bay. For three-quarters of a mile, he fought off the rushes of the krismen, reaching the post with the four rifles, to fall at last before the awful slashes of the kris.
Young Kiethley's experience was duplicated
by hundreds of American solders during the course of the Moro campaigns.
The Taraca campaigns were ones of close and desperate work against a bush
that was alive and slew suddenly, without warning. These early campaigns
accomplished nothing, for the destruction of one Moro band was followed
by the springing of another across the mountain range. The fighting was
terrific and deadly, for it was veiled by a screen of almost impenetrable
jungle. The silence of the night was disturbed by the scream of the juramentado
and the cutting of tent ropes. The dawn showed a camp of fallen tents with
the canvas stained red by the slashes of the kris.