On This Day, 22-NOV 1969, We Honor a Fallen Hero
Gerald Edward Keesling, was born on 29-DEC 1946. His father was Harold Oliver Keesling (1920-1991). His mother was Gertrude Hazel Noltkamper (1918-2007) Keesling. They lived in St. Peters Missouri at 13 Churchill Downs. He had two brothers; Harold and Gary and two sisters; Loraine and Lina. Gerald graduated from Fort Zumwalt High School.
Gerald enlisted in the Navy and had the rank of Petty Officer Third Class. Gerald’s occupational specialty was Hospital Corpsman. He began his tour in Vietnam on 15-FEB 1969. Gerald Keesling served with III Marine Amphibious Force, 1st Civil Affairs Group, Cap 1 1 5 (Combined Action Program was a United States Marine Corps operational initiative implemented in the Vietnam War. Operating from 1965 to 1971, this program was characterized by the placement of a thirteen-member Marine rifle squad, augmented by a U.S. Navy Corpsman and strengthened by a Vietnamese militia platoon).
Gerald’s patrol was ambushed in the Quang Tin province, South Vietnam. Gerald Edward Keesling and two Marines, PFC Pete Gruca and PFC Wes Sidener were killed 22-NOV 1969 when a day patrol of CAP 1-1-4 was ambushed in an area of their new AO (Area of Operation) that they were not familiar with. Several Marines were also seriously wounded during this action. Because the militia broke and ran, the Americans to their fate and there were many casualties. The CAP was disbanded and was not re-established for several months
Gerald Edward Keesling is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery, Jennings, St. Louis County, Missouri. Gerald is honored on the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington DC. His name inscribed at VVM Wall, Panel 16w, Line 110.
Gerald Edward Keesling is honored and remembered at the St. Charles County Veterans Museum.
“I’m the One Called “Doc…”
I shall not walk in your footsteps,
but I will walk by your side.
I shall not walk in your image,
I’ve earned my own title of pride.
We’ve answered the call together,
on sea and foreign land.
When the cry for help was given,
I’ve been there right at hand.
Whether I am on the ocean
or in the jungle wearing greens,
Giving aid to my fellow man,
be it Sailors or Marines.
So the next time you see a corpsman
and you think of calling him “squid”,
Think of the job he’s doing
as those before him did.
And if you ever have to go out there
and your life is on the block,
Look at the one right next to you…
I’m the one called “Doc”.