Earl Lloyd Keesling – Colonel, United States Army

Earl L. Keesling, Colonel

Born March 22, 1925 – Died December 18, 2001


Earl Loyd “Pud” Keesling was born in Anderson, Indiana on 22 March 1925 and was appointed to West Point from the 5th Congressional District. His West Point classmates recall: “As a reward for two years service, including combat, and as a result of an act of Congress, Pud made Pfc. Deciding then on an Army career, he took a prep course for plebe year at VMI.

Quiet, reserved, and always finishing a job once started, his serious outlook made him a natural leader. Not trusting textbooks, he concentrated on athletics and appreciating the “Hell Cats” good music.”

During his cadet days, Pud went out for Basketball and Track he was on the French Club and was a Cadet Captain and served as Battalion Commander of the Third Battalion, Second Regiment.

On graduation, Pud went in the Infantry and after completing the Basic Infantry Course at Fort Bennng, Georgia reported to 11th Airborne Division where he served until 1952.

His next assignment was to the 196th Regimental Combat Team where he served from 1952 to 1954. Then followed an assignment to the 82nd Airborne Division and he served there until 1957. He then attended the Infantry Advanced Course in 1957-58 and was an Honor Graduate U. S. Army Ranger School 1957.

Next Pud served as a Company Commander with he 101st Airborne Division until 1960. In 1961, Pud attended the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS and on completion was assigned to the Military Assistance Advisory Group, Republic of Vietnam where he served from 1961 to 1962.

On return from Nam Pud was assigned to West Point where he served in the Tactical Department from 1962 to 1965.

Pud's next assignment was to the Office, Chief of Research & Development where he served until 1966. Pud returned to Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division and served as Battalion Commander of 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry from 1967 to 1968.

He was decorated with the Silver Star for distinguished gallantry in action, the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services, the Army Commendation Medal for distinguished service, and the Purple Heart for wounds in action against an enemy during combat operations in the vicinity of Cu Chi on August 27, 1968.

On return from Vietnam Pud was assigned to the Advance Research Projects Agency, Office, Secretary of Defense where he served until 1970. He was Military Secretary to Sec Defs Small Arms Advisory Committee and Project Manager for The Jet Belt. (A small jet engine on the back of a man, “Buck Rogers like.” Next Pud was named G3 for the Institute for Military Assistance, Fort Bragg, North Carolina and served until 1972.

Then he was appointed Commanding Officer of the 5th Special Forces Group where he served until 1973 when he went with the Defense Intelligence Agency and served through 1974. Next Pud attended the Army War College, Spain in Madrid, Spain. and then served as Defense and Army Attaché until 1978.

After retirement, he worked as Director of Army Programs for two small R&D Organizations for eight years and was then assigned to Madrid, Spain where he served as Deputy Attaché from 1976 to 1978. Pud's last military assignment was to the XVIII Airborne Corps and served until he retired from the United States Army as Colonel.

Pud and his wife Joan made their home in Bethesda, Maryland.

Pud died on December 18, 2001.

José Andrés Chacón

Cullum 18250

From a contemporary press report:Earl Loyd Keesling, 76, an Army Colonel who commanded airborne and special forces units and served in intelligence assignments, died of pneumonia December 18, 2001, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Colonel Keesling began his Army career on his 18th birthday in 1943. During World War II, he served in combat infantry parachute units in the Philippines and later with occupation forces in Japan.

After the war, he attended Virginia Military Institute, then transferred to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He married Joan Waters upon his graduation in June 1951.

His Army career included two tours of duty in South Vietnam, the Command and General Staff College and the Army War College of Spain, where he served as defense and Army attache at the U.S. Embassy.

At the Pentagon, his duty included assignments with the Army General Staff and in the office of the Secretary of Defense. He retired in 1979.

His decorations included the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit, two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, two Combat Infantryman's Badges and the Master Parachute Badge.

Colonel Keesling had been a resident of Bethesda since 1965.

He belonged to St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church in Bethesda, Army Navy Country Club, Disabled American Veterans and the Retired Officers' Association. He was active in the West Point Alumni Association.

Survivors include his wife of 50 years, of Bethesda; four children, Eric, of Union City, California, Christopher, of West Hartford, Connecticut, Kurt, of Orange, California, and Katherine Newland of McLean; five siblings; and six grandchildren.



  • VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 05/01/1949 – 06/30/1979
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 03/22/1925
  • DATE OF DEATH: 12/18/2001
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 01/15/2002

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