01/30/2014 by militaryphonies
The Order of the Purple Heart
By Phil Keith
I received my first Purple Heart a few days after I was blown out of the sky just south of Hanoi on an otherwise bright and sunny July day in 1972. My F-4 Phantom had just been the unwelcome target of a surface to air missile (one of eight that came my way that morning). Somehow, I managed to get my shredded aircraft back to the aircraft carrier I had left scant minutes before to fly a flak suppression mission.
Several pieces of shrapnel tore through the bottom of my jet. One clipped my right knee cap destroying most of it. Another piece flew up inside my flight helmet, buzzed around my scalp a few times before planting itself in my skull beside my right ear. How I got that blasted plane back on the flight deck I’ll never know. I passed put from loss of blood after it skidded to a stop. I woke up three days later on the USS Sanctuary, a hospital ship cruising in the South China Sea, a Purple Heart pinned to my pillow. Six months of rehab and the best care anyone could ask for and I was once again fit for duty.
I received my second Purple Heart two years later, in 1974, while on an intelligence mission with a Marine Recon patrol just south of Hue. I was attached, at the time, to MACV staff in Saigon and we were working on a nasty piece of business you don’t really want to know about called the Phoenix Program. (If you really want to know, Google it.) During the middle of a furious firefight that I had no business being in, an AK-47 round tore through my chest just above the margin of my flak vest (they weren’t as good in those days). It clipped the top lobe of my right lung, missed my spine by a mere millimeter and blew a 50-cent piece sized hole in my back as it went on to strike the guy behind me in the elbow.
Phil Keith Biography
In 1999 Phil was selected for the Executive in Residence Program at Long Island University’s Business Division and for the next six years taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in business at LIU, Southampton. In 2007 Phil accepted an assignment to teach business topics at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence where he still teaches today. As part of his teaching duties he completed and published a primer on successful selling entitled “SALES: The Best Damn Job in Corporate America.”
Phil is a columnist for the Southampton Press, a feature writer for
magazines, and has published two fictional novels, “Animus” and a sequel, “Belladonna.”
Phil has authored two major non-fiction works under contract to St. Martin’s Press. The first is a Vietnam book entitled “Blackhorse Riders,” and is the story of Alpha Troop, 1st Squadron, the 11th Armored Cavalry and a battle and rescue operation that took place in March, 1970. It is one of the most exciting stories of heroism to come from that war. “Blackhorse Riders” was released by St. Martin’s in February, 2012. “Blackhorse Riders” was the winner of the USA Book News Military History book-of-the-year for 2012; a finalist for the 2013 Colby Award and won the 2013 Silver Medal for History from the Military Writer’s Society of America. The second book is entitled: “Fire Base Illingworth” and re-tells the harrowing story of a ferocious battle in the middle of the jungle in Vietnam in April, 1970, where a forward-operating Army fire base is nearly over-run and destroyed by a North Vietnamese Army regiment bent on killing or capturing every soldier. “Fire Base Illingworth” will be released by St. Martin’s Press on October 29, 2013.
In October, 2011, Phil completed a montage of the Harvard Alumni who have been awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor. The book, published by Create Space from Amazon, is entitled “Crimson Valor.” Seventeen Harvard alumni have earned the Medal of Honor (more than any other college or university other than West Point and the Naval Academy).
Phil has recently completed an original e-work entitled “Missed Signals,” which chronicles the events that led up to the bombing of the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen, in October, 2000. “Missed Signals” was published in July, 2013, under the Kindle Singles program and is also available in print form from Create Space.
bookreporter.com ; http://www.bookreporter.com/authors/philip-keith
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