March 9, 1916 (Oklahoma City, OK)
Captain John F. Keester was born March 9, 1916 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
He was the youngest of nine children born to Dr. Isaac Keester and Levo (Beucler) Keester.
As a youth, John attended and graduated from Washington Elementary, Roosevelt Jr. High School and Classen Sr. High School in Oklahoma City. He was active in debate, drama, public speaking, student council, the spirit club and athletics. At age 10, he hosted his own radio program and was chosen as the YMCA Young Man of the Year representing the Youth of America. Along with his brother Don, he was the tennis doubles City Champion of Oklahoma City. He began his college studies at the University of Oklahoma and those studies were interrupted for military service.
Mr. Keester was a military hero with a distinguished career in the Armed Forces. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1936 and rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant. He then attended Officers Candidate School, graduating in 1942 and assuming the rank of Second Lieutenant. He became a First Lieutenant shortly thereafter, Captain in 1945, Major in 1947 and Lieutenant Colonel in 1958. John served in World War II and the Korean War, serving tours of duty in North Africa, Italy, Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Korea. He fought with the 45th Infantry, the 82nd Airborne and the 101'1 Airborne divisions. He was engaged in many significant campaigns and battles, including Operation Torch, Anzio and the Battle of the Bulge. He graduated from various military schools, including Artillery, Parachute, Jump Master, Advanced Officers, Military Justice and Military Law Schools. He was a member of the U.S. Artillery Order of St. Barbara. He received Top Secret Intelligence clearance during World War II and served the last four years of his military career as Chief of the Ft. Sill Artillery School.
Colonel Keester was a highly decorated serviceman. He was awarded numerous medals and awards for service to his country, including the Bronze Star, Air Medal with Cluster, Army Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Silver and Bronze Battle Stars, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, French Fourragere, French Croix de Guerre with Silver Star, Belgium Fourragere, Dutch Orange Lanyard, Korean Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Artillery Parachutist Badge, Jump Masters Badge, Korean Certificate of Devotion to Duty and others. He retired from the United States Army in 1960.
After his distinguished military career, he returned to the University of Oklahoma and earned his BA degree in 1961. He then obtained his Teaching Degree and his Masters Degree in Social Studies from Central State University in 1965. He began teaching at St. Mary's Junior and Senior High School in Lawton, Oklahoma in 1962. He also served as Principal of St. Mary's Junior High School from 1962-1966. Later, he taught in the Lawton Public School System at Central Junior High School from 1967 until 1981, when he retired at the age of 65. John was a progressive and outgoing educator, who taught his students Government, History and Drivers' Education, as well as many of life's other important lessons. His students excelled and typically placed in the top 3 in the Oklahoma Southwestern Interscholastic Meet Academic competitions. As an educator and friend, he was influential in many young lives. His students often returned to visit him years later and to thank him for teaching them and caring for them. He appreciated all of his students and provided them a strong sense of respect, loyalty and devotion to their country and family He taught his students not only scholarship and academics, but also that their success in life is dependent on their desire and ability to work, initiative, and love of God and fellow man.
During his lifetime, John was a member of various organizations, such as the VFW, NEA, OEA, PACE, the Retired Teacher's Association and others. He was an active civic leader in Lawton, Oklahoma. He served as President of the Lawton Community Development Program and on the Lawton Lakes and Lands Commission for ten years. He was also the founder and first President of the Lawton Takedown Wrestling Club. Colonel Keester enjoyed golf, trout fishing, serving as Lector and usher at Church and vacationing with his family. He was blessed with a wonderful speaking voice. He cherished the Christmas season and always made sure his family had a Merry Christmas. He loved all of his animals, especially his dogs over the years, including Buster, Wolf, Candy, Honey, Samson, Linus, Bridget, Elkie, Hokie and Princess. John's greatest love was for his family. He met his beautiful French wife, Jacqueline, after parachuting into Southern France in August, 1944. He told her that day that he
would marry her after the war. They married on June 7, 1945 in Marseilles, France. John and Jacqueline created a loving home for their six children. Later, he cared for Jacqueline's father, Laurent Jean Rebiere, for several years. John was a member of the Methodist Church for many years, but he joined his wife in the Roman Catholic Church by baptism on April 6, 1957. He served proudly as a Lector and usher at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Lawton, Oklahoma for over thirty years. He has been a member of the parish of St. Mary's in Tulsa for the last ten years.
A close up of the short narrative of his life
The shadow box I made for Dad.
Colonel Cooper was the Best Man in my dad and mom's wedding. He and my dad remained friends for the rest of their lives and Col. Cooper lived in a small Oklahoma town (Duncan) within 100 miles from our house in Lawton, Oklahoma. (Mike KEESTER)
Wedding in France, June, 1945.
Civil Wedding, Marseille, France, Mayor's Office, 6/6/1945;
John Cooper (Best Man) and Collette (Maid of Honor)
Capt Keester and Lt Col John Cooper, Negresco Hotel, Nice France, 1945
Capt Keester and George Tapscott, Naples Italy, 1944
Bronze Star Presentation, Germany
With pipe in mouth, France 1945
Captain Keester, Captain Kiddo Cole and '?' and his loyal dog Wolf, Germany 1945.
Mourmelon Le Grand, March 1945, After the Bulge.
Lt. Biggs, Captain Martin, Major Garrett,
Captain Keester, Captain Cole, Lt. Wright
Major Collins, Lt.Col. Briggs, Dad, Lt.Col. Bill Forbes
Heidelberg, Germany, 1953
The Officers club (a medical tent draped with parachute canopies)
at Mourmelon, France, after the Battle of the Bulge.
A party was given in celebration of a visit by movie actress Marlene Ditriech, seen here signing her autograph.
Second from the right is Major John T. Cooper, CO of the 463rd.
Next to him is Captain John Keester
(See our chapter 'Articles')
Bardol, France, 1945
Sgt Leland and Cpt Keester and Swiss Guards at Vatican, Rome, Italy
Cpt Keester with crutches and broken foot.
With General Lee, Korea, 1956
Retirement Party, 1960