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Keith E. Hixson, August 2002

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Keith E. Hixson
Veteran of the Month, August 2002

Brief Bio: dob, service, occupation now, family

Keith E. Hixson, DOB October 14, 1945, Walla Walla, WA

Wife: Susan married 7-5-69 Children: Kevin 32, Partricia 27, three foster daughters Miranda, Erin, Dee, One grandchild, Shelby 10

Raised on a Farm in the little village of Umapine, Oregon. 12 miles SW of Walla Walla, WA. I'm country but prefer wearing dockers and tennis shoes and listen to the Boston POPS. Started riding horses when two (haven't ridden in 30 yrs).

Worked one year after High School Graduation. Worked at NASA Ames Research Center as a Plumbers Assistant and Welders Assistant. Went to College for two years, got a partial scholarship as a walk on Basketball player. Played on various teams at Ft Devens. Ran out of money for School and Got Drafted.

Why did you decide to join the Armed services?

Came from a Patriotic Family. You don't dodge the draft, you served when your country calls.

Where were you assigned during your training?

Drafted into Army March 28, 1967. Basic at Ft. Lewis. March 28 - May 28, 1967 at Ft. Lewis. Qualified exert in rifle. Easiest thing I ever did. Just like shooting ground squirrels on the back pasture, those pop up targets. Had been shooting a .22 since I was 6. Pheasant hunting since I was 11. Deer hunting since I was 15. After basic was assigned to a Supply Company attached to a Supply Battalion at Ft. Devens, Mass. Our company was just forming waiting for deployment over seas. I arrived at Ft. Devens on June 10, 1967 - left Ft. Devens on March 28, 1969.

What was your first assignment?

I had taken typing in High School. I took the Army typing test in Basic and passed with 60 wpm. I figured I typed more like 50 wpm but they gave me credit for 60. I had worked in warehousing and supply while going to college. After basic I was given a MOS of Supply Clerk without any individual training.

Where did you go next?

I was acting Training SGT for the supply company that was just forming. We didn't have any NCO's in our company. Was given the job even though there were guys with more rank. E-1 filling an E-7 slot. I can always remember the first time I went to Battalion Hdqtrs and informed the Master SGT that I was the new acting training SGT for the Company. He said, "what rank are you son?" and I said "Private E-1" and he said, "I don't think they'd give an E-1 that much responsibility." He called the CO and found I indeed was the acting Training SGT. (I got out of KP and Guard Duty for being in that slot, that was cool) For the next few weeks I spent a lot of time at Battalion learning my job. The old E-8 was really a great guy and a good teacher. As training SGT I scheduled the entire day's activities for the Company as we prepared for overseas deployment. Of course the E-8 showed me the Army Regulations and made sure we were on schedule. Finally SGT Dowies, after I had done the job for six weeks, showed up to take his place as the Training SGT. He had been a prisoner of war in Korea. A good guy. From then on he would check into the Training Office in the mornings and wander around the company looking important and going to the PX for coffee with the other NCO's. I had dinner with him and his wife one evening, nice people. Never once did he give me any instructions, just say, "Hixson you are doing a great job" and leave. We went through our final training and field test before being deployed. (I had made E-4 by that time.) The army decided to break up the company because there was a shortage of NCO's. The names of all the guys were place on some sort of list and were to be assigned to other companies on post. The post chapel center requested my transfere to the Post Chapel center. The present NCOIC of the chapel center was being discharged in a few months and they needed someone to fill his shoes. Even though it was an Staff SGT slot I was requested so orders were cut and off to Post Headquarter Company I went, I believe that was October of 1967. I stayed in that position until my discharge. Sad note which did give me some guilt trip problems, two weeks after I and five or six other guys had been reassigned the Army decided to keep the company together and they were placed on deployment status. They were shipped to Ft. Hood, TX and was told from there they shipped out to Vietnam. I went to the final parade for the Supply Battalion the post band was playing they paraded by in the their jeeps and 2 1/2 ton trucks. It was sad as I said farewell to the guys I worked with and help to train for five months. They were headed to Vietnam and by some strange twist of fate I was left behind. Never heard from the guys again.

What was your homecoming like?

I left Easter Weekend from Boston's Logan Airport. Called a baby killer and trained killer by some college students at the airport. I told them I hadn't killed any babies in recent memory, but could easily upgrade to college student killer if give the opportunity. My warped humor always could get me into trouble.

What do you consider your greatest military achievements?

1. Getting the guys trained for Vietnam and passing all the field tests with high scores.

2. After 18 months in the post headquarters company I received the Army Commendation Medal.

3. Made E-5 in only 18 months as a draftee without any AIT.

What do you consider your greatest civilian achievements?

BA, MA. Became a minister and pastored churches in Winthrop, WA, Tenino, WA, Newport, WA, and Ellensburg, WA. Joined Mountain Rescue team in Winthrop. The North Cascades in the North Cascades National Park are the most rugged Mountains in the lower 48. An emergency room doctor trained us Medics, one year two nights a week approximately four hours a night. Only did one major mountain rescue, retrieved a lady off a steep peak with a broken leg. It was so rugged we couldn't even get a helicopter in there, so we packed her out. Moved to Tenino, Olympia area. Served as a volunteer firefighter and medic for the ambulance service for seven years. We averaged 100 medic calls per year. Taught first aid part time for the local community college. The other firemen asked me to run for city council. I was elected (no one ran against me). Served seven years as a councilman, appointed mayor and served for three years. Sat on many county boards, animal control, planning commission, medic I, etc. While mayor the commanding general at Ft. Lewis was doing a PR project. He was having lunch with a mayor of a local city or town every couple of weeks. His name was Norman Schwartzkopf. He was a big guy physically but I was impressed with his intellect. Anyway, I can always say the General bought me lunch. Moved to Newport,WA and lived there for eight years. Only elected position: served on the community hospital board for six years.

Are you active in veterans' organizations?

I am not active in the American legion, but do visit it once in awhile.

Do you keep in contact with your military comrades?

I do keep in contact with two guys from my headquarters company.

Do you have anything to convey about the military to those reading this interview?

The United States has always been a country that relies upon the citizen soldier. The good is that it develops patriotism, and a sense of belonging to all who participate in military life. The downside is we usually have a depleted military in time of crisis. I believe that a strong military is the best agent for peace. Those against a strong military are a little naive, "bullies will rule if you give them half a chance."

Thank you for your service to our country and your time in this interview.

I enjoy the Patriotfiles because I can communicate with men and women who for the most part understand that America needs a strong military. It is also a place that I as a minister can kinda let my hair down. I have a cynical warped humor, developed by being raised on a farm out in the sticks of Eastern Oregon. I feel free to kid around with this bunch and express my opinions freely. I try to not get too religious but I am a theologian by trade and education. I have enjoyed answering theological question by e-mail or PM but just enjoy being on a site were I can horse around with my buddies. Occassionally I get a PM on my warped humor but most of the time you tolerate it very well. Sometimes I can almost hear your groans.

I would like to thank David and the staff for providing this site. You are all a great bunch. And,
I still love ya James.


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