Monday, June 15, 2009

Idaho Veterans



Minnick presents war hero with overdue medals

Lewiston, ID – In February 1945, Kenneth Keene was a Navy corpsman who stormed the sands of Iwo Jima and spent the day dodging bullets while he tended to the wounded.

Today, his country said, “Thank you.”

Keene never received all the medals he earned for his service. His daughter, Sandra Wicker, contacted Congressman Walt Minnick last year and asked for help. Minnick’s office secured the medals and presented them to Keene today at a ceremony in Lewiston at the Idaho State Veterans Home. The local American Legion post also participated in the ceremony.
“I am here today to right a wrong,” said Minnick, who was joined at the ceremony by Idaho Rep. John Rusche, of Lewiston. “The medals I am presenting today were due to Mr. Keene 64 years ago, and it is my distinct honor to finally present them on behalf of a very grateful nation.”
For his service, Keene earned the Bronze Star, the World War II Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, and an Honorable Service Lapel Pin.

Keene, whose wife Edith Rosetta passed away a year ago, has four children and lives in Riggins. After leaving the Navy, Keene became a minister in the Salvation Army. He worked for Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach, California, for 20 years. He has lived in Idaho for 17 years, and is 86 years old.

“In the words of an American soldier somewhere today, ‘Hurry up and wait!’” Keene said. “I’ve waited 65 years for these particular medals to get here. I would like to thank Congressman Walter Minnick and his great staff in Boise and here in Lewiston, for all of their hard work and research in making today possible. The medals themselves are not as important as the fact that they exist for a reason, to be able to give the soldiers something back to show thankfulness … for stepping outside of the box, when it was necessary, and not thinking of one’s own safety or of punishment, only that of his fellow comrades’ well-being.”

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