Image courtesy of Mary Easley and the Keith family.
Miguel Hernandez Keith
Research compiled by: Misael G., Isaac W., Janet G.
What is a war hero? A war hero is someone who is willing to sacrifice a great deal for what they believe in. A war hero is willing to risk his own life in order to save his fellow soldiers.
Miguel Hernandez Keith was born in San Antonio, Texas in 1951 and moved to Nebraska around the age of 16. He attended North High School where he met his best friend John Easley. Easley, who was too young to serve at the time, dedicated himself to keeping the memory of Miguel’s life and sacrifice. Easley's widow, Mary, currently serves as the caretaker of Mike’s medals before they are transferred to the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virginia.
Miguel – who everyone called Mike – liked to play football, roller-skate, and dance. Miguel aspired to follow in his stepfather’s footsteps and enlist in the Marine Corps. He left high school and enlisted in the Marine Reserves. He transferred up to the Marine Corps in 1969 shortly after the Tet Offensive. He attained the rank of Lance Corporal one month before he was killed in action on May 8, 1970.
(Photo courtesy of Forest Lawn Cemetery)
The monument memorializes Miguel Keith who received the Medal of Honor after his passing for heroism during the Vietnam War in May 1970. The Medal of Honor is the highest possible military award. Keith is the second Hispanic Medal of Honor winner from Omaha; the first was Eddie “Babe” Gomez, who died in the Korean War. Many other Hispanic soldiers also served in Korea and Vietnam.
In the early morning of May 8, 1970, an outnumbering enemy wounded Miguel Keith. Even though he was badly hurt and exposed to enemy fire, he continued to check the security of vital defensive positions and was determined to stop five of the enemy soldiers that approached. He was able to hit three while two others ran for cover. At that point, he had been knocked to the ground with more wounds due to a grenade that detonated near him. Still severely hurt, he courageously continued to run and fire towards an estimated 25 enemy soldiers. He was able to eliminate four enemy soldiers while the others ran for cover. This courageous act of bravery and self-sacrifice was able to turn the odds for his platoon.
(Photo Courtesy of Miguel Hernandez-Keith Park)
The Miguel Hernandez Keith Park memorializes Miguel Keith, a Vietnam War soldier who received the Medal of Honor posthumously. Despite growing up in North Omaha, this Latino hero’s park is located in South Omaha, the heart of the Hispanic community. The park, originally named Industrial Park, was renamed on September 13, 1994. In July of 2013, a yellow ribbon sidewalk and a monument memorializing Miguel’s heroism were installed. Later, the Marine Insignia from Freedom Park was relocated to Miguel Hernandez Keith Park after it was damaged in the Missouri River Floods of 2011. Future renovations to the park could include soccer fields, lit flagpoles, and a family picnic area. “With the monument there and the benches around the monument, I want people to sit and reflect on who Mike (Miguel) was,” Mary Easley, Keith family liaison, said.
(Photo courtesy of Miguel Hernandez-Keith Park)