BAXTER SPRINGS - Deceased Baxter Springs resident and veteran Bernard Keith's brother Charles Keith was credited with shooting down the first two Japanese planes that bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. It was this bombing that caused America to join World War II. Following is the original article written about the notice sent to Charles Keith's parents regarding the shooting.
DOWNS FIRST PLANES
Former Coffeyville Lad and Buddy on Toes in Pearl Harbor Raid Dec. 7
A lad who spent considerable time in Coffeyville some time ago, Corporal Charles D. Keith and his buddy, Sgt. Jonkanskas, were directly responsible for bringing down the first two Japanese war planes during the attack of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7.
That announcement has been received from the commander in chief of the coast artillery units at Kamehameha, near Pearl Harbor, by Charles D. Keith's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Troy Keith of Hiwasse, Arkansas, and relayed here to Charles' sister, Mrs. Carl Hanson, 116 Walnut. Charles has been in training since October, 1939.
The message follows:
"On Dec. 7, 1941, during the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese air craft, two Japanese planes were brought down by Battery B. 55th coast artillery, (Charles D. Keith's unit).
As far as can be learned, these were the first Japanese casualties caused by any coast artillery units.
Sgt. Jonkanskas and Corp. Charles D. Keith were the machine gunners who were directly responsible for destruction of the two enemy planes.
It is with great pleasure and pride that I am able to make this matter of record. The action of the entire personnel of the battery showed a fine fighting spirit and discipline and reflected the result of careful training and numerous practice alerts.”
Bernard Keith was not in the same outfit as his brother, Charles. Bernard joined the Army in January 1942, just after the bombing and fought many battles in the South Pacific. He was on his way home, stopped off in Hawaii, when the war was declared over. He received the Purple Heart and many other medals. He was in the Reserves for two more years. Bernard and Dona's son, Stephen Keith, was stationed in England during the Vietnam War from 1966 to 1969 with the US Air Force. He was in the Reserves for two more years. Stephen and his wife Joyce had their first child Stephanie while in England. Fortunately, the grandsons and great-grandsons have not had to go to war.