Major General Laurence B. "Dutch" Keiser
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|Laurence Bolton Keiser|
(1895-06-01)June 1, 1895
October 20, 1969(1969-10-20) (aged 74)
San Francisco, California
|Buried at||United States Military Academy Post Cemetery, West Point, New York|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1917 - 1951|
|Commands held||2nd Infantry Division|
World War I
World War II
Legion of Merit (2)
Laurence Bolton Keiser was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 1, 1895. He graduated from West Point in 1917, in the same class as J. Lawton Collins, Matthew B. Ridgway, and Mark W. Clark.
Dispatched to France with the American Expeditionary Force during World War I, Keiser was quickly promoted to temporary captain and appointed to command of 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, a unit of the 5th Division. He was awarded the Silver Star for actions on the Western Front.
Keiser was stationed with the 15th Infantry Regiment in Tientsin, China from March 1920 to June 1922. In 1923 he graduated from the Infantry Company Officers’ Course at Fort Benning. He then served as a battalion commander in the 23rd Infantry Regiment at Fort Sam Houston. From 1924 to 1928, Keiser served as a Company Tactical Officers at West Point, responsible for instructing and mentoring members of the Corps of Cadets.
After his assignment at West Point, Keiser returned to Fort Sam Houston as the commander of a company in the 9th Infantry. In 1932 he completed the Infantry Officer Advanced Course at Fort Benning, after which he returned to Fort Sam Houston as advisor and mentor to units of the Army Reserve.
In 1939 Keiser graduated from the United States Army Command and General Staff College, after which he was assigned to Fort Benning as executive officer and then commander of the 29th Infantry Regiment.
In April 1942, Keiser was assigned as chief of staff of III Corps at Fort McPherson. He then served as VI Corps chief of staff during the North African and Italian Campaigns. In January 1944, he was promoted to brigadier general and assigned as chief of staff of the Fourth Army at Fort Sam Houston.
Keiser returned to China in 1948, this time as part of the United States Military Advisory Group to the Nationalist Chinese Government.
In November 1948, Keiser was made assistant division commander of the 2nd Infantry Division. In February 1950, his former West Point classmate Joe Collins gave him command of the division, together with a promotion to major general. Following the outbreak of the Korean War, the 2nd Division was the first United States army unit to arrive in Korea from mainland United States.
From August to September, the division disembarked at Pusan and moved to the Naktong Bulge to assist the 24th Infantry Division, which was then struggling to restore its front line following the crossing of the Naktong River by the North Korean 4th Division.
When the North Koreans launched the Great Naktong Offensive, four divisions faced the 2nd. Some units of the 2nd Infantry Division did not perform well on first contact with the enemy, and Keiser displayed lack of knowledge of his division's situation when he was confronted by Lieutenant General Walton Walker, the commander of the Eighth Army. Keiser was already considered by some officers to be slightly too old for an outstanding division commander.
The 2nd Division was involved in the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, pushing north west towards Kunsan, together with the 25th Infantry Division. The division would advance well into North Korea, close to the China–North Korea border.
In late November 1950, a large Chinese force crossed over the Yalu River and launched a surprise attack on the United Nations forces in what was to be known as the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River. The 2nd Division had been advancing on the right flank of IX Corps, which was then pushing to the Yalu River, and was positioned north of Kunu-ri, with the 25th Infantry Division on its left flank. In a swift week-long attack, the Chinese threatened to envelop the Eighth Army, with the 2nd Division exposed on the right and bearing the brunt of the enveloping movement. The 25th Division was able to withdraw to Anju, but Keiser was unable to obtain permission from Major General John B. Coulter to follow. The 2nd Division was eventually cut off and forced to fight its way through the Chinese to safety at Sunchon.
Following the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River, during which 2nd Division suffered crippling losses of approximately 4,000 men, Keiser met with Major General Leven C. Allen, the chief of staff of the Eighth Army, in Sŏul. He was relieved of his command and replaced with Major General Robert B. McClure, supposedly for medical reasons, although he felt he was being made a scapegoat for the reverses suffered by the United Nations following the Chinese intervention in the war.
Returning to the United States in February, 1951, he assumed command of the 5th Infantry Division at Indiantown Gap Military Reservation (IGMR) an infantry basic training camp in Pennsylvania near Hershey and Harrisburg. He retired in 1953, and settled in San Francisco.
On October 20, 1969, Keiser died in San Francisco. He was buried at West Point Cemetery.
Laurence B. Keiser 1917 USMA
Cullum No. 5719 • Oct 20, 1969 • Died in San Francisco, California Interred in West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY
I have never known an officer who more deserved recognition as a "soldier’s soldier” than Laurence Bolton Keiser. He was a man who embodied in the highest degree the cherished traditions of his Alma Mater—military bearing and dignity, forthright moral courage, tactical brilliance and dynamic leadership and, most of all, an understanding and loyalty for those who served under him.
Dutch knew soldiers, and he had the attribute of inspiring them by simple affection and superb example. He was blessed with that rare quality which endeared him to his troops and, yet, never permitted him to transcend the propriety of relationship between commander and men, or the exigencies of military requirements. These qualities were reciprocated by a fierce desire within his subordinates to respond with every ounce they could muster.
Dutch was born in Pennsylvania, 1 June 1895. His father, Dr. Elmer Keiser, was a prominent physician and an especially remarkable man who continued his practice even when in his eighties. I remember well how proud Dr. Keiser was to see his son become a general officer.
Dutch entered the United States Military Academy as a cadet in June of 1913. He was graduated in April 1917; commissioned a Second Lieutenant in Infantry; and one year later sailed for France with the 6th Infantry as part of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF). There he participated in the Meuse-Argonne and St. Mihiel offensives.
Initially, he commanded an Infantry company but soon became commander of the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry—still a Captain and the youngest battalion commander in the 5th Infantry Division. For displaying great courage, inspirational leadership, and initiative in leading his battalion, he was awarded the Silver Star. The citation states that during the Romagne operation, he successfully organized what was left of his battalion in the face of a terrific barrage with utter disregard for his life.
From March 1920 to June 1922, he was stationed with the 15th Infantry Regiment in Tientsin, China. In 1923 he graduated from the Company Officers’ Course at the Infantry School at Fort Benning. During the following year he served as a battalion commander in the 23d Infantry Regiment at Fort Sam Houston, thus beginning his close relationship with the 2d "Indianhead” Division. Then for four years (1924-1928) he was a "Tac” at West Point.
He returned to Fort Sam Houston and the 2d Infantry Division as a company commander in the 9th Infantry, having been reverted to the grade of Captain following the World War I reduction of Army strength. In 1932 he pursued the Advanced Course at the Infantry School and then, once again, was assigned to San Antonio—this time with the Army Reserves.
After graduating from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in June 1939, he was again assigned to Fort Benning. There he served as Regimental Executive Officer of the 29th Infantry, and then assumed command of the regiment in October 1941. In April 1942 he became Chief of Staff of the III Corps at Fort McPherson.
In October 1943, he became Chief of Staff of the VI Corps in the North African Theatre of Operations and in Italy. For his service in Italy in World War II, he was awarded his first Legion of Merit. In January 1944, he was promoted to Brigadier General, one of the youngest looking generals ever seen—alert, dignified, tactful, and an independent thinker.
In April 1944, he returned to San Antonio for the fourth time, and there he served two years as Chief of Staff to the Commanding General, Fourth Army. He often thought of San Antonio as his home rather than Philadelphia. In July 1948, Dutch was again ordered to China, this time for duty with the United States Military Advisory Group in Nanking. While there, the Chinese Government conferred upon him two of their highest decorations.
In November 1948, he returned to the United States and rejoined the 2d Infantry Division with which he had had such close association—this time as Assistant Division Commander and at Fort Lewis. He favored the Great Northwest as an especially excellent place to train troops.
In February 1950, he was promoted to Major General, assumed command of his beloved Indianhead Division and deployed with it to Korea in July of that year—the first of the CONUS divisions to enter the Korean War. Here, he again demonstrated that special brand of physical bravery and moral courage found in but a few, often putting himself at key points in the front lines to be with his battalions. For gallantry in action in Korea, he was awarded his second Silver Star.
In Korea, Dutch experienced disappointment, adversity, and hurt beyond any man’s deserves, but he never complained; he never submitted to emotion, and he never weakened in providing the inspirational leadership and tactical direction so necessary to his men in the desperate fighting along the Pusan perimeter and during the initial Chinese intervention.
Following his tour in Korea, Dutch was assigned to command the 5th Infantry Division at Indiantown Gap. While there, he was honored by the State of Pennsylvania for his leadership and for the contributions he made to that great state. Dutch was retired on 28 January 1953 and settled in San Francisco.
Dutch had been awarded two Silver Stars, three Legion of Merits, three Bronze Star Medals, three Commendation Medals, six Air Medals, and many theatre ribbons. His service ribbons reflected eleven campaign stars—four in World War I, four in World War II, and three in the Korean War.
In his retirement, Dutch often recalled vividly and pleasantly his days as a Kaydet, his early service as a Lieutenant when he knew so much more than when he was a general, his tour as a "Tac” at West Point, his duty in the 29th Infantry at Fort Benning, and his thirty-seven years of active military service with its many yesterdays spent in distant areas of the world, including China. But it was the friends he made in all walks of life, military and civilian, fellow countrymen and foreign, who were most important in his life. He had those qualities which one admires and respects the most and which caused others to admire him greatly. He believed that success in the military service was not just a matter of personal performance. There were so many others on his team, and he remembered the officers and noncommissioned officers around him, who through the years, were so much a part of his service life.
Dutch is survived by his wife Marion P. Keiser; a brother, Hubert Keiser of Tucson, Arizona; and by his long time friend and Enlisted Aide, Master Sergeant John H. Cook of San Francisco.
Master Sergeant John H. Cook was General Reiser’s devoted driver and senior Enlisted Aide in Korea and ex-officio his advocate, bodyguard, and constant shadow. Cookie, as he is known to Dutch’s old friends, is a legendary figure in his own right who never fully recovered from severe wounds he received in battle. Cookie had other fine assignments, including serving as driver and Enlisted Aide to General "Bus” Wheeler when he was Deputy Commanding General, United States European Command, and then Chief of Staff, United States Army. Not long after Dutch retired, Cookie retired, the better to look after both Dutch and Marion Keiser for whom he, Cookie, had the greatest affection. As circumstances would have it, Dutch died in Cookie's arms during the night of 20 October 1969.
Dutch was blessed with good fortune and never more so than when he married Marion, his companion for forty-three years. Dutch would say that she heartened him when he was discouraged, praised him when he deserved it, and perhaps even sometimes when he did not. There is no doubt about it—she is his most cherished of all memories which he has taken with him to his final resting place in those hallowed grounds at his Alma Mater—West Point.
The commander of the 2nd Infantry Division was Laurence B. ("Dutch") Keiser, fifty-five. He was a West Point classmate (1917) of Joe Collins, Matt Ridgway, and Mark Clark. One of the few officers in that class to see combat in World War I, Keiser had been a sensation on the battlefield. At age twenty-three he was named to command an infantry battalion in the 5th Division and won a Silver Star for gallantry. But that was the last time Keiser commanded troops in combat. During World War II he served in Italy for five months as chief of staff of VI Corps under John P. Lucas, who was sacked at Anzio. He finished the war a brigadier general and chief of staff of the Fourth Army in Texas, lagging far behind his more illustrious classmates, who by then were wearing three and four stars.
(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Captain (Infantry) Laurence Bolton Keiser, United States Army, was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action while commanding an Infantry Company of the 5th Division, American Expeditionary Forces, in France, during World War II.General Orders: Unites States Military Academy Register of Graduates
(UNCONFIRMED - Citation Needed): Major General Laurence Bolton Keiser, United States Army, was awarded a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in connection with military operations against the enemy in Korea, while serving as Commanding General of the 2d Infantry Division, on 27 July 1953, in Korea.General Orders: Headquarters, 2d Infantry Division, General Orders No. 144 (1950)
(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Brigadier General Laurence Bolton Keiser, United States Army, was awarded the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Chief of Staff, SIXTH Corps in Italy, in 1944.General Orders: Unites States Military Academy Register of Graduates
(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Brigadier General Laurence Bolton Keiser, United States Army, was awarded a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Chief of Staff of the FOURTH Army from 1945 to 1946.General Orders: Unites States Military Academy Register of Graduates