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October 3, 2008

Oroville Mercury Register
December 22, 1943
Sailor’s Bonds Will Help To Fight The Japanese

Dick Keener, fighting the Japanese in the south Pacific, sent bonds as well as torpedoes against them. Keener, third-class petty officer has sent a letter to his Oroville parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lou Keener, Palermo road, that included $257 which he asked be turned into war bonds to add to the 30 such bonds he already owns. Referring to the Japanese as Nips, Keener wrote that plenty of bonds and torpedoes will be needed to complete “the big pushover when it comes,” Money orders and paychecks sent to the parents had a faded and streaked appearance as though subjected to considerable heat and humidity, the parents said. Dick wrote the following to pass the censors: “It is very hot here in more ways than one. Mom and Pop. you know what I mean”. Keener asked that Christmas. Greetings be extended from him to his former high school teachers, particularly Principal J. C. Nisbet, and to his former classmates. The torpedo man, who has been in the service for 18 months, wrote that the Navy had a great dinner on Thanksgiving Day.

From an ad in the same paper
Fat Salvage ABC, F is for FATTY ACIDS used in plastics for war. Made from your used Fat, save it! Turn it in! Hi-Way Market Marysville Road.

Stu’s Notes: I went to our National Guard Armory last Sunday, October 5, for an award ceremony opened to the public. About 25 people, mostly relatives of the 297th, Oroville’s Guard were there. Sitting in front of me was a man dressed like me, tee shirt, pants, shoes, nothing to indicate that he was a hero (my definition of hero is pretty narrow- he or she is one who puts his or her life in danger for other’s period.. Sports , Movie people, the men who throws a life raft to a drowning man are not heroes in my book.) Well as the proceedings went on to honor the Heroes in uniform, this man’s name was called, he arose and walked up in front of his former peers. A list of his accomplishments was read and a Medal pined on his chest. Then the Mayor Oroville Steve Jerrigan, with City Council Members Art Hatley and Jack Berry presented the man with a proclamation of Merit from the city of Oroville. Most of what was said I didn’t hear, as Lynn was not there to translate for me. Then the man sat back down in front of me. After the ceremony I thought this is a story for me, as Mary Weston was talking to the men in uniform. I sat next to him and asked for his story, as I write for the Oroville Mercury. He told me he was Sgt. Robert Keener attached to Oroville’s 297th, from which he just retired. He lived in Orland, a member of VFW Post 1992 Orland, he served in Vietnam 1966-68, he was there 1 ½ years ½ year longer than most. He was a Buck Sgt, but came out a Pfc. I asked why, well it was over a disagreement with a Lt. Robert’s words. “The Lt. was a 90 day wonder. He wanted to put my men, many who were green into an unsafe position, where they would have been caught in a cross fire.” After the fight Robert was a Private. After he served in Vietnam he joined the California National Guard. He served in the Chico Guard with our daughter Sgt Deborah Shaner and one time under her command, as she was a higher grade of Sgt at the time. Sgt. Keener also served in Iraq taking up where Debbie left off, as he went over in 2004, when Debbie was coming home. His Medal read, "The Meritorious Service Medal Company A, 297th Support Battalion. For Exceptional Meritorious from Jan. 10, 1984 to Jan 8, 2008." Signed by Louis J. Antonetti Brigadier General Commander California National Guard.

Daughter, Debbie is now in Ft. Knox Kentucky, her buddies have left her behind and are now in Iraq or somewhere “Over there”. All the intense training they have been going through re-injured an old knee injury and Debbie sadly had to stay behind.( You would really have to be a soldier to understand this brotherhood, they have for each other, they truly are “Family “ heroes all.
These two stories came together quite by accident. I wonder if the two men named Keener are related. You may have read about Sgt. Joshua Haun in Tuesday’s Mercury by Mary Weston. Sgt. Joshua Haun received his Purple Heart for injuries he received in Iraq, he and his wife Tammie and son Colt live in Paradise. Also another award was given, I will have to call my friend down there, Sgt. Hamilton and find out more. .