GEORGE DENNIS KEATHLEY (1917 ~ 1944). Medal of Honor recipient George D. Keathley was born in 1917, in Olney, Texas. After graduating from Olney High School, Keathley attended Cameron Junior College in Lawton, Oklahoma and then the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (Texas A&M University), which he graduated from in 1937.
In 1942 he married Inez Edmunson; they had two daughters. Keathley entered the military at Lamesa, Texas, and trained at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.
A Staff Sergeant in the Army, Keathley served in North Africa and Italy beginning in 1943. On September 14, 1944, Keathley acted as a guide for the First Platoon, Company B, 85th Infantry Division near Mount Altuzzo, Italy. He saw the Second and Third Platoons suffer heavy casualties, including the loss of all commissioned and noncommissioned officers after three large enemy attacks. Keathley ran forward, and despite enemy fire, moved from casualty to casualty collecting ammunition and providing first aid. He then visited each man left in the platoons to dispense much needed ammunition and provide words of encouragement. The enemy launched a fourth attack, of about two companies in strength, advancing on the American position from the front and both sides with grenades and automatic weapons. With the Second and Third Platoons relying on him for leadership, Keathley directed the men and held back the enemy. An enemy grenade exploded near Keathley, mortally wounding him in his left side. Despite his wounds, Keathley rose to his feet and for the next fifteen minutes remained in charge of his men, all the while effectively firing his rifle. Keathley died moments after achieving victory.
For his actions, Keathley was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, which was presented to his wife at Camp Walters, Texas, on April 11, 1945, by Major General Bruce Magruder. Keathley is buried in the American Battlefield Monument Commission Cemetery in Florence, Italy. In 1944 a troopship was named in his honor. At Texas A&M University there is a bronze relief in remembrance of him in the Corps of Cadets Center. A dormitory is also named in his honor.
Bibliography: 338th Infantry in World War II, http://yourpage.blazenet.net/cjheiser/ct/338moh2.htm, October 17, 2005. "Above and Beyond: The Medal of Honor in Texas," Capitol Visitors Center, State Preservation Board of Texas. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Department of the Navy, http://www.histroy.navy.mil/danfs/s10/sgt_george_d_keathley.htm, October 17, 2005. Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association, University of Texas, http:www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/KK/fke55.html, September 26, 2005. Texas A&M University, Residence Life, http://reslife.tamu.edu/housing/halls/keathley/default.asp, October 13, 2005.