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McKim Tells Tales Of Black Ops Service

Nov 8, 2023 (0)

KEITH MCKIM - a native of O'Neill was a grand note speaker at the national American Legion convention this year.

 This Saturday Nov. 11 is Veteran's Day. The November holiday isn't as played up as the Fourth of July, but it is a time to honor the men and women who served in the United States military branches and their service to the country. 

 The federal holiday heralds back to 1954 and the November holiday has an even longer history dating back to before it was known as Veterans Day.

 Veterans Day originated in the Armistice Day holiday commemorating the November 11, 1918, armistice at 11 a.m. (hence “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”), which suspended active hostilities and effectively ended the First World War.

On Nov. 11, 1918, an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations effectively ended the Great War after millions of casualties. It signaled the first time in more than four years that guns and cannons on the Western Front fell quiet. The war officially ended less than a year later when the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June 1919.

 On the first anniversary of the armistice, President Woodrow Wilson declared that November 11 would be celebrated as Armistice Day with parades, public meetings and a two-minute pause of business at 11. 

The peacefulness of the Sandhills and our remoteness in the world keeps us isolated from the tragedy and horrors of war although Holt County has had its share of brave soldiers that have fought abroad and have seen what war can do to war torn countries and to the soldiers who fight it.

 One of Holt County's brave is Keith McKim, a 1959 graduate of St. Mary's High School, and the son of the late Lyle and Sandy McKim of O'Neill. McKim was a rambunctious youth who was a student at the O'Neill High School until he got in a little trouble and was shipped off to St. Mary's to see if the Franciscan nuns on the hill could tame the wild youth.

 After graduation, Keith McKim enlisted in the Navy in 1959 and later joined the Army and became a Green Beret and served in Vietnam with the Studies and Operation Group (SOG) from 1959-1970. He has received a Silver Star for Valor, Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his services. 

McKim served in Vietnam for the last five years of his service. PFC McKim fought in Vietnam with the 5th Special Forces Group (SOG) of the Green Berets, operating within MACV-SOG, a covert special operations group.

"SOG, the best kept secret of the Vietnam war, was labeled a “black operation”,  meaning its very existence was concealed, and even denied by the U.S. Government," said McKim.

SOG maintained a ghost existence, operating without assistance, deep behind enemy lines across the international borders of Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam.

Sadly, fewer than 100 SOG operators still live today, aging fast into their 70s and 80s. In retelling their stories, Keith McKim preserves their heroic deeds, so future generations know of the bravery, integrity, devotion and sacrifice of its covert warriors.

Receiving orders directly from either the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon or from the Executive branch of Government in the White House, SOG operated between January 1964 and May 1972.

At the height of the war, 600,000 uniformed Americans served in Vietnam. 4,000 were Green Berets, a mere .007%, yet they garnered 13% of the awarded Medals of Honor. On top of that, SOG men earned almost half of those. And no small wonder. In battle, 100% of SOG men were wounded and 50% killed.

Following the war, each SOG man swore an oath vowing not to reveal any details about the unit or missions for 25 years. Holding true to that vow, McKim delayed writing and recording the stories of the valiant men of SOG until 2000. 

McKim is a professional motivational, inspirational and political speaker, he is a published author, an actor in church and community theater, an amateur singer and poet and an active Republican Party member. 

He currently has two CD's for sale, entitled “ Vietnam Green Berets S.O.G. Medal of Honor Recipients” and “US Navy SOG Seals”.

McKim was wounded in Vietnam  when he received wounds to his left  eye, resulting in the loss of it. He was wounded while on a combat operation when a hostile force was encountered. His wounds were caused by fragments from an exploding device.

Keith's sister is Willma Tasler of Atkinson


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