Keith Allen Campbell was born on March 3, 1946. He became a member of the Army while in Arlington, Virginia and attained the rank of Specialist 4th. On February 8, 1967 at the age of 20, Keith Allen Campbell gave his life in the service of our country in South Vietnam, Bien Hoa Province. You can find him honored on the Vietnam Memorial Wall on Panel 15E, Row 8.
Keith Allen Campbell was 20 years old and had been in the Army for nearly three years, part of that time as a member of the Special Forces (Green Berets). Before his service in Vietnam, he had earned the Bronze Star for bravery in the Dominican Republic. He also had earned twelve other awards and decorations, including the Distinguished Service Cross and another Bronze Star for valor. In total, he was awarded five decorations in the nineteen days that he lived and served in Vietnam.
His death was typical of the man. He was a medic with the 503rd Parachute Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, and he observed a wounded soldier lying in an exposed position without any protection. Disregarding the hail of enemy fire, he ran to the soldier's position and then dragged him back to the shelter of a tree where he administered first aid to him. The tree protected his patient, but it was too small to shield them both and Campbell was fatally wounded.
Today, Specialist Campbell lies at rest in Arlington National Cemetery, not far from where he lived and attended school as a youth. Each Christmas his younger sister, Judy, places a small fir tree on his grave. It is decorated with a very special chain which Judy and her brother had started to make before he left for service in Vietnam and which she had kept ever since.
The manner in which he lived, and died, promoted the George Washington Chapter, Association of the United States Army, to name a memorial plaque in his honor. It is presented annually to the outstanding Green Beret enlisted reservist in the Washington, D.C. area. The George Washington Chapter, to which Sergeant Campbell belonged, it composed of more than 4,000 members, including many of the Army's highest ranking officers.
A boyhood friend, Philip Newman Malone, is buried next to him at Arlington National Cemetery.
By Direction of the President of the United States
The Distinguished Service Cross
Is Awarded To Keith A. Campbell
Rank and Unit: Specialist Four, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade.
Date and Place: 8 February 1967, Republic of Vietnam
Reason: For extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam: Specialist Four Campbell distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 8 February 1967 while serving with elements of the 503d Infantry assaulting a Viet Cong bunker complex.
During the initial engagement, the lead company had suffered numerous casualties, including the medical personnel. Specialist Campbell volunteered to assist in treating the wounded, and dauntlessly moved up to the front line. Exposing himself to the intense hostile fire, he began to administer aid to the wounded soldiers. Discovering that one casualty lay fifty meters in front of the friendly lines and next to an insurgent bunker, Specialist Campbell called for covering fire as he maneuvered forward.
Disregarding the extreme dangers, he fearlessly ran through a hail of bullets and exploding grenades, but was forced to take cover behind a low mound of dirt. From this position, he killed a Viet Cong sniper who was firing on him from a tree.
Undeterred from his mission, Specialist Campbell then crawled the last twenty meters to the stricken man. Dragging the soldier to the cover of a nearby tree, he started to administer first aid. As he fearlessly protected the man from further hostile fire, Specialist Campbell was mortally wounded.
His unimpeachable valor and selfless sacrifice against insurmountable odds succeeded in saving a fellow soldier's life. Specialist Four Campbell's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty, at the cost of his life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
The family of Keith Allen Campbell, attending the dedication of the Keith A. Campbell Memorial
Library at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, 14 November 2006
From left to right: Ryan Moe , attorney ,holding great grandson John (Jack) Burgess; Major(USMC, Retired) Frank C. Stolz, former son-in-law and father of the girl on his left Erika Moe (wife of Ryan), attorney-at-law, granddaughter, her sister, Keisha Burgess, executive with Dell Computer, Austin, Texas, Alice Campbell holding twin daughter (my great granddaughter) Emma Campbell, Brigadier General (retired) Mahlon E. Gates, Stepfather of Keith A. Campbell, Mother of Keith A. Campbell, Esther B. Campbell Gates, Keith Richard Campbell, my grandson, holding twin great granddaugher Sarah, Mrs Richard C. Campbell (Judy), sister of Keith A. Campbell her husband Richard Campbell, Campbell her husband Richard Campbell, and lastly Douglas Burgess, husband of Keisha and my grandson in law holding my great grandson William Mahlon Burgess. Missing from the group is the mother of Keisha and Erika, Susan Van Dyke, Keith A. Campbell's sister, and her husband George, and granddaughter Kimberlee Bullock and her husband Joel.
November 14, 2006 Remarks by MG Russell J. Czerw
Commander, Army Medical Department Center and School and Fort Sam Houston, TexasThis morning we proudly honor one of our own-a Soldier who was committed to saving others and put his brothers before self. For Specialist Keith Campbell, who defined what being a Combat Medic meant and still means today, this moment is a culmination, a happy rendezvous with history that makes his memory come alive. Keith is an American hero not because of the way he died but because of how he lived his life. Our great Army and Fort Sam Houston will recognize Keith's distinct contributions to America by honoring him this morning.
In dedicating this library we honor Keith, and in honoring Keith, we honor the best in our country and ourselves.
Perhaps FDR's dedication speech to the library that bears his name says it best.
“The dedication of a Library is in itself an act of faith. To bring together the records of the past and…preserve them for the use of men and women living in the future, a nation must believe in three things. It must believe in the past. It must believe in the future. It must, above all, believe in the capacity of its people so to learn from the past that they can gain in judgment for the creation of the future.”
Keith loved his country with a patriot's love and he loved the Army with a Soldiers love. And so he would have loved this site and the library his family and friends and country have dedicated to celebrate his life.
To the family that loved him so deeply, I wish to express our gratitude for allowing us to share our lives with Keith.
We welcome Keith's wide circle of friends from home and afar gathered here, who found so much inspiration in his life, so much warmth in his friendship, so much pain in his loss.
Specialist Campbell entered the service in 1963 to fulfill his dream of becoming an Army Doctor. In 1964, he attended airborne training at Fort Benning Georgia, and then graduated from US Army Medical Training Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Specialist Campbell was assigned to the 82nd Airborne and deployed to the Dominican Republic in 1965 where he earned his first award of the Combat Medical Badge.
Specialist Campbell was honorably discharged in 1966 and attended College and served in the US Army Reserve as a Medic with the 11th Special Forces. In 1967, he reenlisted and requested duty in Vietnam where he said his “medic skills” were needed. Specialist Campbell was assigned to HHC, 1st BN(ABN), 503D INFANTRY. Only five days after his arrival in Vietnam, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with “V” device for valor for heroism.
Only a few days later, on that tragic February day, over 39 years ago, a terrible moment was frozen in the lives of many of us here. Specialist Campbell would make the ultimate sacrifice for his fellow soldiers by giving his life for those he dedicated himself to save.
Today, we celebrate his bravery, his heroism and his life so that he will never be forgotten. It is important to not that Keith's family along with the steadfast support of many of his former commanders are pursing the upgrade of the Distinguished Service Cross to the Congressional Medal of Honor. WE ANXIOUSLY AWAIT THE DECISION BY OUR WASHINGTON LEADERSHIP.
And now, in dedicating this library to Keith, we recall those years of grace, that time of hope. The spirit that he evoked-the spirit of sacrifice, of patriotism, of unstinting dedication–is the same spirit that will bring us safely through the adversities that we face today. The overarching purpose of this Nation remains the same to build a just society in a secure America living at peace with the other nations of the world.
The library that we dedicate today is a symbol, above all, of that unchanging purpose. Through our study here of his words and his deeds, the service of SPC Campbell will keep its high place in the hearts of many generations of America to come after us.
Keith, you believed in us and we believed in you. We are proud to have been part of your journey and oh so proud to dedicate such a wonderful place in your honor.
Thank you all for sharing this wonderful morning with us.
s/ Russel lJ. Czerw
14 November 2006
Remembrances To Keith Allen Campbell
By His Mother
No Greater Love
My son Keith A. Campbell was only 20 years old when he was killed in Vietnam on February 8, l967. He had been in the Army for nearly three years. Part of that time as a member of the Green Berets. Before Vietnam he had earned the Bronze Star for bravery in the Dominican Republic. He also had 12 other awards and decorations, including the Distinguished Service Cross and another Bronze Star for Valor. He was awarded five decorations in the l9 days he lived in Vietnam. Keith is buried in Arlington National Cemetery side by side with several of his buddies from high school.
Submitted by Esther B. Gates on January 6, 1999
Relationship to Veteran: I am his mother.
“Gold Star Mom”
The banner was small,but the star was large,
The color of a blue, night sky.
She hung it in the window with trembling fingers
And tried hard not to cry.
He was so young to go far away
As all soldiers have to do. She knew that danger
As she touched the star of blue.
The weeks went by, the months rolled on
She knew he would not die.
Her faith in God held her head up high.
In her heart she sang a song.
But the battles raged. The news was not good
Why did so many have to die? She was cold,
And she felt terribly old
As the day came that she faced with dread.
When a knock on the door
Shattered her life evermore,
And the blue star turned to gold.
Esther B. Campbell Gates
For Keith Allen Campbell one of Arlington's Vietnam Dead
Arlington's Vietnam Dead
I wonder if you walk at night
Among those granite stones
Awakening sleeping souls to flight
To rattle history's bones
I wonder if you sit to chat
At Mr. lincoln's knee
Discussing all the “this” and “that”
that makes up history.
For history is what stretches wide
Before my brimming eyes
As the shimmering Potomac's tide
Blends with the lighted skies.
Row on row they sleep
Below me, now and forever more.
I count the stones (like counting sheep)
From each and every war.
“Can there be peace?” I'm sure they ask
At Mr. Lincoln's knee.
To bleed and die was our task,
And now we're history.
“But we did not love — we did not live
There was so little time.
Is twenty years too much to give
To fill an empty shrine?”
And as I stare and listen well
I'm sure that I can hear
A quiet splash in that columned cell
That's another Lincoln tear.
— Your Mother, Esther B. Gates
Submitted by Esther B. Gates on April 5, 1999
Relationship to Veteran: I'm his mother.
The day President Nixon announced the cessation of hostilities in Vietnam I wrote the following poem:
For Sp/4 Keith Allen Campbell DSC, BSM, PH
Combat Medic, 173rd Airborne Brigade
Peace has come.
Now you can truly sleep, my son.
The muddy field where you were laid
Flag draped, will now be green.
Redbud and cherry blossoms can be seen
Soon in bloom above your head.
Arlington's Eternal Flame
Flickers across granite rows
To illuminate your name
And then beneath it (with lightning's calm)
Strikes in black the word VIETNAM
On your own stone.
Peace has come.
Your medals may turn green
In time, like our beret,
But forever there are those who'll say,
“I live because he cared — he came!”
You need no longer wander a tormented soul.
You achieved your personal goal
Of saving lives, easing pain.
Now sleep in peace, my son. Sleep!
Our Nation has assured
You did not die in vain
And I no longer weep alone.
— Esther B. (Campbell) Gates
San Antonio, Texas
Your portrait of Keith on your web page inspired me to write the following poem:
We used to say that “Keith talks with his eyes”. He still does:
Sgt Keith A. Campbell
Look into my eyes.
We died for you.
God told me what to do
As He will you too.
Look into my eyes
And use the life
He gave you well.
Living is a daily strife
Be strong as I.
Look into my eyes
And help your fellow man.
You are on this plane to serve.
Give what you can.
Look into my eyes
And carry on.
You are the reason we all died.
You too, can be strong — and ALIVE!
— Esther B. Gates
OUT OF THE CLOUDS
Out of the clouds I tumble
To survey the earth below.
With a snap of my billowing canopy
I glide like a bird, and slow.
The wind kisses my face
Like a welcoming friend–
Takes my hand to lead the way.
The other hand grasps St. Michael's wings;
In this exhilarating game we play.
The thunder of the silence
soothes my soul.
As I drift in laughter's wake,
And I dance on the air
With the earth my goal.
All for my country's sake.
— Esther B. (Campbell) Gates
(I wrote this poem for Keith based on his descriptions of his jumps.)
When my son, Keith Allen Campbell was born March 3, l946 in Long Beach, California, I wrote the following on the front page of his baby book: I now call it THE PROPHECY!
You are so small, so soft, so new. Because you fit the contour of my arms time refuses to cease and tomorrow you will be a man. I gaze into your eyes and see the future wondering what your destiny will be. Perhaps you will be a great surgeon who will mend the broken bodies of men. Perhaps you will be a minister who will heal their souls. Perhaps you will be a teacher who will guide the minds of a coming generation–a statesman whose oratory will resound through the halls of time. I see you working in oils recording the beauty about you for all those who come after to see. Perhaps your soul will flee on wings of steel into a burning blue where your father sought to free a world of hate and oppression. Music may pour from you for a tired world crying for the aesthetic. Perhaps you will be none of these, but a simple man WHO WILL LIVE FOR THE JOY OF HELPING OTHERS. I could ask for no more, only the strength and wisdom to guide you, if not to be a great man, one who will be admired, loved and honored by the Peoples you are to serve. Oh Life, be kind to him! He is my son!
Esther Boone Campbell Gates, San Antonio, Texas
Keith Allen Campbell has been inducted into the Legion of Honor, having been sponsored by his loving Mother, Ester B. Gates. For more information click below:
Keith Allen Campbell: Legion of Valor
The Army documentary, “Army Medic: The Spirit of Courage” video that was “selected 1st place in the documentary category and first place overall in the 2008 Department of Army Visual Information Video Production Awards Program. This documentary shares the history of a battlefield job, a job that has grown to become one of the most honored of military occupations.” A portion of this video portrays the courage of Keith Campbell in Vietnam.
Dear Friends and Family:
The Delaware Hometown Heroes Banner Program continues to bring honor and remembrance to our American Heroes. Our webmaster will be honoring our soldiers lives in independent videos. Attached is the first one to be completed and I know how much you have grown to love and respect Keith as we do. Therefore, I wanted to make sure you were the first to view this. Thank you and continue to pray for our men and women in uniform.
Judy Campbell, 20 July 2008
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard