Keil, Paul Thomas

Paul Thomas Keil was born on 10 January 1948 in Tacoma, Washington. The family moved to Southern California in 1948. He entered service in September 1967 from Los Angeles, California. Paul graduated from the US Army flight school and received his warrant in 1968. WO1 Paul Keil's first comabt assignment was with the 227th Aviation Battalion (Assault Heicopter) (Airmobile) in the 1st Cavalry Division. On 6 March 1969, WO1 Keil was serving as sircraft commander of a UH-1H helicopter during a resupply mission in the Republic of Vietnam. A small friendly unit had become surrounded by a large enemy force following the initial lift of thirty troops into the landing zone. The contact escalated and the greatly outnumbered friendly force was pinned down by enemy automatic weapons, small arms, and heavy caliber machine-gun fire. As darkness approached, five helicopters had been disabled attempting to put more troops into the landing zone and the ground commander had made an urgent request for an evavuation helicopter for his seriously wounded men. WO1 Keil immediately volunteered to undertake the mission. As he approached the friendly position, the enemy unleashed a heavy volume of fire on the descending helicopter. While on the ground, the aircraft was hit heavily by armor piercing rounds, but Warrant Officer Keil remained in the landing zone awaiting the loading of the seriously wounded. Warrant Officer Keil then lifted his crippled aircraft out of the contact area but was unable to sustain flight due to the damage his aircraft had received. With great skill, Warrant Officer Keil executed a forced landing in a secure area, thus saving the lives of everyone on board. For his gallantry in action on this day, Warrant Officer Paul Keil was awarded the natino's third highest valor medal, the Silver Star.

WO4 Paul Keil received a direct commission with the rank of captain in 1982. LTC Paul Keil retired from the Army in 1997 and worked as a contractor on the Apache Helicopter at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. Paul and his wife Virginia still live in Huntsville, after retiring a second time in 2014.