Randsburg hero honored posthumously

Randsburg hero honored posthumouslyIn an action Rep. Kevin McCarthy described as long delayed by “political gridlock and governmental bureaucracy,” on March 25 McCarthy presented Pamela Keiser with a Distinguished Service Cross posthumously honoring her husband Sergeant First Class Robert Keiser of Randsburg for his heroic actions during the Korean War.

Also attending the ceremony in McCarthy’s office were Col. Dan McElroy, Lt. Gen. Jack D. Woodall, Father Conroy and a special guest, Keiser’s dear friend Lue Gregg, whose persistence was instrumental in making the award happen.

“This is the first ceremony of its kind in this office, and it’s an honor to make it happen today,” said McCarthy.

Keiser, who enlisted in the Army in 1947, served as a military policeman and Army criminal investigator throughout his service. On Nov. 30, 1950, while he was serving with the 2nd Military Police Company, 2nd Infantry Division, Keiser and his convoy approached a North Korean Pass — referred to as “the Gauntlet” — that was blocked by at least 20 disabled and abandoned American vehicles strewn across the Kunuri-Sunchon Road.

Disregarding his own safety, Keiser bounded forward under intense enemy fire, then with Herculean effort removed all the vehicles by pushing them or otherwise propelling them off the road into a steep ravine.

When he found a vehicle that would run, he would load them with dead and wounded he found lying in the road and order American soldiers hiding in the ditches to drive the vehicles through the pass to the safety of friendly lines.

According to the official record, “Sergeant First Class Keiser’s aggressive action was unquestionably a decisive factor in saving hundreds of lives and the 2nd Infantry’s successful withdrawal from the Kunuri-Sunchon Pass.

“His conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service.”

After clearing the road, Keiser (still in intense danger) proceeded to a stream half a mile south of the pass and stood for an hour in the cold stream directing the division convoy through the ford.

Keiser was nominated for the Medal of Honor two years and one month after his heroic actions occurred, and, although his actions met all criteria for the award, the award was denied because it was submitted just a month later than a then-existing two-year submittal limitation.

After Congress passed the 1996 National Defense Authorization Act, which included a provision authorizing congressional waivers of time limits for such awards, Gregg began to write everyone he could think of who might be able to help attain this honor for his friend. When McCarthy learned of Keiser’s heroism, he was able to insert language in the 2014 NDAA that allowed award of the Distinguished Service Cross to Keiser as recommended by the Secretary of the Army.

Keiser, also known as “Cowboy Bob,” had been a rancher in the Victorville area, a guide in the Sierra Nevada and owner and operator of “Bob’s Bait Shop,” which still stands in Isleton. For the last eight years of his life, he lived in Randsburg, where he was well loved for his sense of humor and the horseshoes he gave as gifts to people who visited his antique shop.

Keiser leaves behind his wife Pamela, his daughter Kathleen, two grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

“After a military career worthy of two Bronze Stars, one V for Valor, Medal of Honor consideration and now the Distinguished Service Cross, Mr. Keiser’s legacy is one that American dreams are made of,” said McCarthy.

Story First Published: 2014-04-02