Note: This story was suggested and some information provided by Joe Ware.
Major General Keith L. Ware was born in Denver on November 23, 1915. In 1941 he was drafted into the United States Army and sent to Officer Candidate School in 1942. He became a platoon leader and was stationed at Ft. Ord, CA. During campaigns in the European Theater of Operation he had risen to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, commanding the 1st Bat., 15th Infantry Reg., in the 3rd Infantry Div.
“…he sailed on October 22, 1942 from Hampton Roads, Virginia and was part of the North African invasion force. He participated in the Algeria-French Morocco and Tunisian Campaigns. The next major operation he participated in were the invasion of Sicily, the Naples-Foggia battles of southern Italy, the landings at Anzio Beach and the on the San Tropez beaches of southern France in 1944.” (1)
“On December 26, Ware’s battalion was attacking a heavily fortified German hilltop position. Finding one of the assault companies stalled and digging in under heavy fire, Ware went forward past their position and made a close close reconnaissance of the German positions, deliberately drawing their fire in order to determine their location. After two hours, he returned to the company and brought back a small force — eleven men and a tank — in order to renew the attack; leading the advance personally, he disabled four machine-gun positions before the hill was secured. Five of the eleven men with him were casualties, and Ware himself was wounded. For his action in this engagement, he was awarded the Medal of Honor in April 1945.” (2)
“June 18, 1945 he was awarded the Medal of Honor. An excerpt from the citation states, ‘On December 26, 1944, while serving as battalion commander of the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry, near Sigolsheim, France he went forward of the front line elements of his command and for two hours reconnoitered a strongly held enemy position…’ As an interesting side note, Audie Murphy received his Medal of Honor for actions in January 1945 as a member of Lieutenant Colonel Ware’s battalion. Later, he served as one of Ware’s company commanders.” (1)
Ware decided to become a career soldier; one of the first draftees to reach general officer rank. After serving six months in Europe, Ware returned to attend the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. From there he was assigned to Washington, D.C. He met his future wife here. Keith and Joyce were married on May 3, 1947.
He went to West Point to teach Psychology and Leadership. Then he went to the Armed Forces Staff College and was sent to serve in Korea. Hid tour of duty there was from March 1955 to June 1957. “It was then off to the National War College, back to Washington D.C. to serve as a Congressional Liaison and then a tour in Europe in Europe. During his next assignment as Assistant Division Commander of the 2d Armored Division (‘Hell on Wheels’) at Fort Hood, Texas, he was promoted to Brigadier General. His next tour of duty was as Deputy Chief and Chief of Information for the Department of the Army from September 1964 through November 1967. During that tour, he was promoted to Major General on July 1, 1966.” (1)
Ware was supposed to have begun a new tour in Germany, but with the war in Vietnam, he convinced the Secretary of the Army to reassign him. He arrived in Vietnam awhile before the Tet Offensive in early 1968 and served as deputy commander of II Field Force and later commander of the 1st Infantry Division.
Past experiences in World War II encouraged him to move forward for a first-hand observation of the enemy. “On 12th and September 13, (1968) with elements of the division closely engaged near Loc Ninh neat the Cambodian border, he made several low passes over the fighting in a helicopter in order to better command his units. However,, heavy anti-aircraft fire brought the helicopter down… with Ware, his three command staff, and the four helicopter crew. There were no survivors; Ware became the fourth American general ( and the first Army general officer) to die in combat in the Vietnam War.” (2)
He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Sources: (1) The MG Keith L. Ware Public Affairs Communication Competition on-line at www.army.mil/klw/ware_bio.html
(2) Keith L. Ware – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia on-line
Photos from Wikipedia