Washington, D.C. – This morning, during a ceremony held in the Office of the House Majority Whip, Congressman Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) and members of the United States Army presented the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously to Sergeant First Class (SFC) Robert Keiser from Randsburg, CA for his heroic actions displayed during the Korean War. The award was bestowed to his wife, Pamela Keiser.
Congressman McCarthy’s Remarks:
“Good morning, Colonel Dan McElroy, Lieutenant General Jack D. Woodall, Father Conroy, Mr. Lue Gregg, and Mrs. Pam Keiser, it is an honor to be with you all today and welcome to the Office of the House Majority Whip. We are gathered to celebrate the extraordinary military service of Sergeant First Class Robert Keiser for his heroic efforts in the Korean War.
“This is the first ceremony of its kind in this office and it’s an honor to make it happen today.
“We stand before a painting a friend of mine, Mr. Penly painted. The original was painted by a German artist in the 1850’s and it shows George Washington. During the Revolutionary War we had not had one victory yet but this was our first victory – crossing the Delaware and surprising the Hessians on Christmas. And if you look in the picture there are thirteen people but twelve faces. And if you look, the second person in the beret is Scottish, in the green is an African American, there is a women in the red, in the back a Native American, because what the artist wanted to depict was that America is a melting pot and that they would risk all for the idea of freedom and liberty.
“There are thirteen people but only twelve faces so what it was saying was, ‘would you be the thirteenth?’ ‘Would you be there in the time of need for your nation?’ And today we are answering that Robert Keiser was. He went beyond the call of duty. When others would stay inside the truck in a battle, he didn’t. He ran to the call to save others.
“Sergeant First Class Keiser enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1947 and served as a military policeman and Army criminal investigator throughout his service. Three years after enlisting, on November 30, 1950, while serving with the 2d Military Police Company, 2d Infantry Division, Mr. Keiser approached a pass in North Korea – referred to as ‘the Gauntlet’ – that was blocked by disabled vehicles and fallen soldiers.
“I want to tell you a little bit about Sergeant First Class Robert enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1947 and served as a military policeman and Army criminal investigator throughout his service.
“Three years after enlisting, on November 30, 1950, while serving with the 2d Military Police Company, 2d Infantry Division, Mr. Keiser approached a pass in North Korea – referred to as ‘the Gauntlet’ – that was blocked by disabled vehicles and fallen soldiers.
It was Mr. Keiser’s selfless actions to place his life in harm’s way without hesitation to clear the pass and lead his comrades to safety under enemy fire that set in motion this momentous and long-overdue occasion of honoring him.
“Two years and one month after his heroism, Mr. Keiser was nominated for the highest military honor, the Medal of Honor. And despite earning approval at each point of review throughout the chain of command, he was ultimately denied the award because the time limitation of two years from the date of the valorous act had expired.
“Close to half a century later, in 1996 Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that included a provision authorizing Congress to waive time limits precluding members of the military from receiving military awards.
“This provision would change the way our nation honors its heroes. And thanks to the resolve of Mr. Keiser’s dear friend, Lue Gregg, Mr. Keiser’s recommendation for the Distinguished Service Cross reached my office last year.
“Mr. Gregg started this in 2001. He had written almost everyone as he tells the story. It didn’t come to our attention until 2013.
“Until this point, political gridlock and governmental bureaucracy left Mr. Gregg’s efforts to honor his friend unfulfilled. In 2013, I inserted language in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act to waive expired time limits and award the Distinguished Service Cross to Sergeant First Class Robert Keiser as recommended by the Secretary of the Army.
“We will hear of Mr. Keiser’s gallantry under intense enemy fire and in severe weather conditions momentarily. But I want to first tell you a little of the man who resided with his wife just outside of Ridgecrest, CA until he passed away in December of 2009.
“Mr. Keiser, who was also affectionately known as “Cowboy Bob,” was a rancher in the Victorville, CA area, a guide in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and owner and operator of “Bob’s Bait Shop” – which is is still there today along the delta. Mr. 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 with 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.”