As U.S. forces advanced toward Baghdad between March 20 and April 5, 2003, then-Tech. Sgt. Keehan and his team faced numerous life-and-death situations – where their lives, and those of the men around them, hung in the balance.
As part of a ground-forces unit, Keehan and his men had to not only perform their duties as airmen – by providing reconnaissance and relaying enemy positions to air support – but to fight alongside everyone else during fierce ground combat.
In the heavily fortified city of Samawah, Keehan’s unit met heavy opposition. At one point during the battle, Keehan ran out into heavy fire to identify enemy positions along the riverbanks and roads. Once he located their positions, Keehan and his team returned fire and inflicted significant damage.
A few days later, Keehan and his unit were thrust once more into the jaws of heavy combat. On their way to Baghdad, they were suddenly surrounded by enemy forces – just as a paralyzing sandstorm blew in, stripping the team of sight and awareness. Outnumbered and barely able to see, Keehan’s team quickly began relaying information to their air support – enabling the deliverance of a devastating blow against the enemy.
The team pushed on. But just as they approached the outskirts of Baghdad, enemy mortars and tank fire rained down on their position. Under intense fire from T-72 tanks, artillery, and small arms, Keehan edged his unit forward. As he had done countless times before in the preceding two weeks, he risked his life to protect his unit by emerging from a relatively safe position into the heart of the battle. He once again braved intense fire to ensure the accurate relay of enemy positions to air support.
Throughout it all, Keehan never faltered and he did not fail. For his gallantry in action, he was awarded the Silver Star medal in June 2007.