Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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July 8, 2014

Vietnam vet to speak Thursday

ASHLAND — Vietnam veteran Tom Keelin will be the guest speaker for Thursday’s monthly Military History Roundtable at Highlands Museum & Discovery Center in Ashland.

Keelin, 66, of Catlettsburg is a retired railroad worker and 1965 graduate of Catlettsburg’s Thomas R. Brown High School, as well as serving as the pastor at Faith Independent Baptist Church at Summit.

“I lost my leg in Vietnam and I’ve been on crutches since,” Keelin said during an April, 2013 interview with The Ashland Daily Independent.

Keelin said he was serving with a mechanized unit attached to the 173rd Airborne traveling in an armored personnel carrier when his unit was ambushed and a rocket penetrated the vehicle. “We had a couple of guys killed and my leg was blown off. We had quite a few that was wounded,” he said.

“The guy standing next to me was killed and we were standing almost back to back. He was killed and my leg was blown completely off. I felt only a lot of heat and I knew my helmet had been blown off. I looked down and my leg was gone. They dragged me out and I was laying there on the side of the road. When the shock wore off, the pain was excruciating and I was real sick at my stomach and didn’t know the extent of my injuries. The medics arrived and gave me morphine,” he said.

The Military History Roundtable, a monthly effort by the Eastern Kentucky Military Historical Society, is open to the public and free of charge. Veterans and history enthusiasts alike are encouraged to attend. For more information, call (606) 547-2607.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com.

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