Cameron University President Cindy Ross, joined by Major General David D. Halverson, commanding general of Fort Sill and the Fires Center of Excellence, and Major Rod Boles, chair, Cameron Department of Military Science, today welcomed the family of Cameron alumnus George Dennis Keathley to a ceremony unveiling a plaque proclaiming the new name of the department, the "George D. Keathley Department of Military Science." Members of the Keathley family who were present for the ceremony were his brother, Marlin H. Keathley, nephew Len Keathley and his wife Sue, stepdaughter Paula Roy, granddaughters Brenda Seaton and Judy Patterson and extended family members Donald and Gene Roy and Karen Richter.
"We are honored to host members of Sergeant Keathley's family for this special occasion," said President Ross. "Sergeant Keathley's heroism and sacrifice during a critical time in our nation's history will inspire current and future Cameron students as they serve our country. The George D. Keathley Department of Military Science will strive to uphold the highest ideals of military service as exemplified by George D. Keathley."
The George D. Keathley Department of Military Science is home to the Comanche Battalion, Cameron's Army ROTC program, one of the top programs in the nation. The unit was recently named the top program in the Fifth Brigade, which includes 36 Army ROTC Programs in the states of Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
Family members of Cameron alumnus George D. Keathley (l to r) Marlin Keathley, Len Keathley and Paula Roy celebrate the naming of the George D. Keathley Department of Military Science.
George Dennis Keathley attended Cameron Junior College in 1931 and 1932, later earning a degree from Texas A&M University. Shortly after joining the U.S. Army in May 1942, he was deployed to the European Theater of Operations, where he earned numerous citations, including two Bronze Stars for heroic actions. In July 1944, he wrote to his brother, "War is rough...is not what it is cracked up to be...I personally don't care for medals and glory. I want to come home."
On September 14, 1944, his unit engaged in battle at Mount Altuzzo, Italy. After all officers and non-commissioned officers of both the second and third platoons of Company B had become casualties, Staff Sergeant Keathley, guide of the first platoon, assumed command of the second and third platoons. Despite being greatly outnumbered by the enemy, he organized his soldiers' defense, gathered and distributed ammunition, gave direct and precise orders to his charges and continued to encourage his soldiers throughout.
Keathley suffered a mortal wound in his left side from a hand grenade during the attack, but even after being injured, he refused to take cover. Instead, he continued to battle the enemy and shout orders to his soldiers. After the platoons of Company B repulsed numerous counterattacks, the enemy withdrew. Staff Sergeant Keathley died shortly after victory was achieved.
He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions that day. The citation for the honor reads in part, "Had it not been for his indomitable courage and incomparable heroism, the remnants of the three rifle platoons of Company B might well have been annihilated by the overwhelming enemy attacking force. His actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service."
April 23, 2010