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First Name: Reinhardt

Last Name: Keppler

Birthplace: Ralston, WA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)

Rating: Boatswain's Mate Petty Officer 1st Class

Middle Name: John

Date of Birth: 22 January 1918

Date of Death: 15 November 1942

Rank or Rate: Petty Officer First Class

Years Served: 1936-1942
Reinhart John Keppler

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Reinhardt John Keppler
Boatswain's Mate First Class, U.S. Navy
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Boatswain's Mate First Class Reinhardt John Keppler (22 January 1918 - 15 November 1942) was a U.S. Navy who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II.

Reinhardt John Keppler was born on 22 January 1918 in Ralston, WA. He was raised in that state and, after graduation from Wapato High School, enlisted in the U.S. Navy on 19 February 1936.

After an honorable discharge, he re-enlisted on 25 April 1940 and was assigned to the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco (CA-38). Keppler was promoted to First Class Petty Officer at the beginning of October 1941. During the war, Boatswain's Mate First Class Keppler participated in action at Pearl Harbor; the early wartime raids on Bougainville and New Guinea; and the Solomon Islands' campaign.

When a Japanese bomber crashed into his ship at the beginning of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on 12 November 1942, he assisted in caring for the resulting casualties. That night, as San Francisco participated in a chaotic battle with enemy warships, he labored valiantly, despite mortal wounds, to save his ship and wounded shipmates. It was for his extraordinary heroism on these occasions that Keppler was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Boatswain's Mate First Class, U.S. Navy.

Place and date: Solomon Islands, 12-13 November 1942.

Citation: For extraordinary heroism and distinguished courage above and beyond the call of duty while serving aboard the USS San Francisco during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands, 12-13 November 1942. When a hostile torpedo plane, during a daylight air raid, crashed on the after machine-gun platform, Keppler promptly assisted in removal of the dead and, by his capable supervision of the wounded, undoubtedly helped save the lives of several shipmates who otherwise might have perished. That night, when the ship's hangar was set afire during the great battle off Savo Island, he bravely led a hose into the starboard side of the stricken area and there, without assistance and despite frequent hits from terrific enemy bombardment, eventually brought the fire under control. Later, although mortally wounded, he labored valiantly in the midst of bursting shells, persistently directing fire-fighting operations and administering to wounded personnel until he finally collapsed from loss of blood. His great personal valor, maintained with utter disregard of personal safety, was in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Navy Cross


In 1946, the destroyer USS Keppler (DD-765), in commission from 1947 to 1972, was named in his honor. Previously, the destroyer escorts USS Keppler (DE-311) and USS Keppler (DE-375) had been named for him, but both were cancelled before construction began.

Death and Burial

Boatswain's Mate First Class Reinhardt John Keppler was killed in action on 15 November 1942. He is buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, CA, in Section C, Grave 379.

Honoree ID: 1476   Created by: MHOH




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