Semper Fidelis: Miguel Keith

by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sonja Wickard
05 May 2021

Official photo of Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith in Marine Corps dress uniform
Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith Official Photo
Official photo of Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith in Marine Corps dress uniform
Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith Official Photo
Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith Official Photo
Photo By: Photo Courtesy of The Vietnam Veteran Virtural Wall
VIRIN: 210505-N-ZZ000-1020
 This month, the Navy will place USNS Miguel Keith (ESB 5) in commission during a ceremony in San Diego, California.

The ship commissioning ceremony has been observed by many navies around the world for more than three centuries and in our own fleet since 1775, when the first ship of the Continental Navy, the Alfred, was commissioned.Once commissioned, a ship becomes a Navy command and joins the other active ships in the fleet.
 

The ship’s namesake is Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith. Born 2 June 1951, in San Antonio, Texas, Keith enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in January of 1969 after graduating from North High School in Omaha, Nebraska, the previous year.
 

After completing training in September of 1969, Keith was assigned a rifleman with the 1st Combined Action Group, III Marine Amphibious Force, operating in the Republic of Vietnam at the time. Keith was fatally wounded in May of 1970 when his platoon came under a heavy ground-attack by enemy forces in Quang Ngai Province, Vietnam.
 

Photo of Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith deployed in Vietnam. Marine is posing with a pug and radio.
Photo of Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith deployed in Vietnam. Marine is posing with a pug and radio.
Photo of Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith deployed in Vietnam. Marine is posing with a pug and radio.
Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith Photo
Photo of Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith deployed in Vietnam. Marine is posing with a pug and radio.
Photo By: Photo Courtesy of The Vietnam Veteran Virtural Wall
VIRIN: 210505-N-ZZ000-1019
Despite being critically wounded Keith made his way to vital defensive positions and proceeded to open fire as he advanced on five approaching enemies, eliminating three and driving off the other two.

Keith was further wounded when a grenade exploded near his position, though he again concentrated his fire on an estimated 25 enemy soldiers preparing to attack, this time eliminating four and again causing the remainder to disperse. It was during these efforts that Keith was fatally wounded by an enemy soldier.
 

Keith’s actions in the face of overwhelming odds greatly contributed to the success of his platoon in routing a numerically superior enemy force, and upheld the finest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the U.S. Naval Service.
 

Photo of Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith deployed in Vietnam. Marine is posing with a guitar.
Photo of Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith deployed in Vietnam. Marine is posing with a guitar.
Photo of Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith deployed in Vietnam. Marine is posing with a guitar.
Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith Photo
Photo of Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith deployed in Vietnam. Marine is posing with a guitar.
Photo By: Photo Courtesy of The Vietnam Veteran Virtural Wall
VIRIN: 210505-N-ZZ000-1018
His medals and decorations include: the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Miguel Keith is an Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB). ESBs are flexible, modular platforms and can be used across a broad range of military operations supporting multiple operational phases, much like the Expeditionary Transfer Dock (ESD) class.
 

The ship’s capabilities include a four-spot flight deck, a hanger bay able to store and operate two MH-53E Sea Dragon type helicopters, command and control assets, and equipment staging support, storage for mine sled and rigid hull inflatable boats, as well as accommodations and work spaces for the crew.
 

After commissioning, Miguel Keith will mainly be deployed in support of aviation mine countermeasures and special forces operations as well as humanitarian and traditional military missions.


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