Medal of Honor Profile: BM1 Reinhardt J. Keppler, USN (1918-1942)

BM1 REINHARDT J. KEPPLER, USN (1918-1942): For heroism on Nov. 12-13, 1942 aboard the USS San Francisco he led forces in conquering a hill held by Japanese troops. Attained the rank of lieutenant colonel. Employed at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard 1954-1972. Died at Hood Canal, interred in Tahoma National Cemetery. Disabled American Veterans post in Gorst is named in his honor.

“For extraordinary heroism and distinguished courage above and beyond the call of duty while serving aboard the U.S.S. San Francisco during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands, 12–November 13, 1942.

“When a hostile torpedo plane, during a daylight air raid, crashed on the after machine-gun platform, Keppler promptly assisted in the removal of the dead and, by his capable supervision of the wounded, undoubtedly helped save the lives of several shipmates who otherwise might have perished.

“That night, when the hangar was set afire during the great battle off Savo Island, he bravely led a hose into the starboard side of the stricken area and there, without assistance and despite frequent hits from terrific enemy bombardment, eventually brought the fire under control. Later, although mortally wounded, he labored valiantly in the midst of bursting shells, persistently directing fire-fighting operations and administrating to wounded personnel until he finally collapsed from loss of blood, aged 24.

“His great personal valor, maintained with utter disregard of personal safety, was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”