Personal Histories

Foister F. Keck S1/c

Foister Floyd Keck enlisted in the United States Navy at age eighteen on 5 October 1942 at Nashville, Tennessee, joining his brothers, Arnold Keck and Ralph Keck, who had enlisted shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
He held the ratings of A/S, Seaman Second Class and Seaman First Class. He completed NT School, radio operator at Wahiawa, Hawaii. He served in the Navy for three years and four days. He was stationed at the Naval Training Center at San Diego, California and was then transferred to USNAS Pearl Harbor. On 1 March 1944 he entered the 14th Naval District Radio Operations School and qualified as a Radioman 3rd Class, completing his training on 17 June 1944.

He was transferred on 16 August 1944 to the USS Wharton. On 21 November 1944 he was transferred to Terminal Island in San Pedro to the USS Hadley. On 1 April, 1945 he participated in the initial invasion of Okinawa and on 11 May, 1945 participated in repelling Japanese an attack on the northern entrance of Okinawa during which his ship destroyed twenty-three enemy planes. He received an Honorable Discharge on 14 October 1945 at the US Naval Personnel Separation Center at Memphis, Tennessee.

Foister Keck was born 19 June 1924 on a farm in Goin, Claiborne County, Tennessee to Arlis J. Keck and his wife, Menada Carey. He grew up on a tobacco farm and was raised by good and loving parents who adored him for his affectionate spirit, warm smile, and winning ways. He descends from eighteen Magna Carta barons and four patriots of the American Revolution who settled in Claiborne County, Tennessee with land grants for their service. While a teenager he saved an entire family from their home that burned to the ground. Prior to his enlistment he completed eight years of grammar school and worked for Consolidated Paper Company in Monroe, Michigan and was rehired there after his military service. While traveling on a Greyhound bus from Monroe, Michigan to Tazewell, Tennessee while on leave, he met a beautiful, tall red-head named Dorothy Elizabeth Castle from Lee County, Virginia and fell in love. They were married on 4 September 1944 in Middlesboro, Tennessee. Foister returned to the War in the Pacific and Dorothy moved to Claiborne County, Tennessee where she taught eight grades in a one-room school, a three-mile walk from Foister’s parent’s farm.

In April 1946 Foister and Dorothy had a daughter named Brenda Helen Keck. Fourteen months later they had a little red-haired boy named James Allen Keck. On July 10th, 1948 “Little Jimmy” died from accidental burns, devastating his parents. Shortly afterwards Foister and Dorothy divorced. He moved to Chicago and she returned to Virginia and Kingsport, Tennessee where she worked as a book-binder. Foister died on April 6th, 1956 from kidney failure in Chicago, Illinois. He was buried next to his baby boy and two sets of grandparents in the Keck Family Cemetery at the junction of Chumley and Keck Roads in Goin, Tennessee on land that was granted to his 3rd-great-grandfather, Conrad Keck, for his service in the American Revolution. His wife, Dorothy died on May 13th 2000 in Kingsport, Tennessee where she is buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery.

His daughter, Brenda Keck, is the widow of Captain James Eddie Reed, United States Army, who was an Airborne Ranger Infantry Captain and commanded Company A, 39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division, was killed in action on February 1st, 1968 in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive. In 1991 she succeeded in having the US Army posthumously award him a Silver Star and Air Medal after a long and arduous fight. She graduated from San Francisco State University and did graduate studies at the University of San Francisco. She works as a mediator in Oakland, California, and has written several books to include one on the Vietnam War, the Oakland Firestorm, and several family histories. Foister was blessed with two grandchildren, James Eddie Reed, Jr., a graduate of Texas A & M University and owner of a moving company in Oakland, California, and Jamie Elizabeth Reed, graduate of UC San Diego and holder of an MBA from University of the Redlands. Jamie married a graduate of the US Naval Academy who served in the Gulf War and Somalia on the USS Ranger. She has one child, Reed James Van Wart, and works in pharmaceutical research.

This story was written and submitted by:
Brenda Keck Reed, daughter of Foister.