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2Lt Samuel Reeves Keesler, Jr.

Lt Keesler and Keesler AFB Samuel Reeves Keesler, Jr., 1896-1918, was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, on 11 April 1896. He was an outstanding student leader and athlete in high school and at Davidson College in North Carolina.

Keesler entered the U.S. Army on 13 May 1917. He was commissioned on 15 August, and he received training as an aerial observer at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, before sailing for France in March 1918.

After additional training in aerial gunnery and artillery fire control, Second Lieutenant Keesler was posted to the 24th Aero Squadron in the Verdun sector of the Western Front on 26 August 1918.

While performing a reconnaissance mission in the late afternoon of 8 October 1918, Keesler and his pilot, 1Lt Harold W. Riley, were attacked by four enemy fighters. Keesler returned fire and shot down the leader, but Riley lost control of their badly damaged plane. Keesler continued to fend off the attackers with machine gun fire even as it fell. He was wounded six times before the plane crash-landed. Lieutenant Keesler received an additional wound when the enemy fighters strafed them on the ground. Captured by German ground troops, the two airmen were unable to receive immediate medical attention, and Keesler died the following day. For his gallantry, Lieutenant Keesler was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
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