Remains of Sergeant Bailey Keeton, Jr. Returned to Tennessee After 65 Years

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 | 1:01pm

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder recognize the service and sacrifice of United States Army Sergeant Bailey Keeton, Jr. of Scott County who was presumably killed on December 2, 1950 during the Korean War, but whose remains had not been identified until 2015.  Keeton was assigned to “D” Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment of the 7th Infantry Division operating along the eastern banks of the Changjin (Chosin) Reservoir.  He was 20 years old at the time when he was listed missing in action. 

Service members captured by enemy forces and later released were unable to provide information regarding Keeton.  However, United States and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea participated in a joint recovery operation in 2004 and excavated several burial sites in the vicinity of the battlefield where crews found the remains of at least nine individuals. 

Through DNA testing using family reference samples and evidence, Keeton was identified in 2015. 

“We applaud the continued efforts to bring home our Tennessee service members who have been listed as missing in action,” Haslam said.  “Bailey Keeton, Jr. answered the call to serve his country and we are grateful that his family will finally have the closure of laying him to rest in his home state.”

“At 20 years old, Sergeant Keeton gave his life courageously to defend his country,” Grinder said.  “Sadly, his family waited more than six decades for confirmation on where he died and the opportunity to properly bury him among family and friends.  This hero will finally receive his military honors.”

Keeton’s remains will arrive at the McGhee Tyson Airport, 2055 Alcoa Highway, Gate 5, Alcoa at 11:24 a.m. (EDT) on Thursday, June 23.  Media interested in attending the arrival, must contact Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority Vice President of Public Relations Becky Huckaby at (865) 342-3014.  The family will not be available for interviews at arrival of their loved one.  Requests for media interviews must be submitted to yvette.martinez@tn.gov for family consideration. 

Haslam has declared a day of mourning and ordered flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, June 25 in honor of Sergeant Keeton’s ultimate sacrifice.  Visitation will be from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (EDT) at West-Murley Funeral Home, 18641 Alberta Street, Oneida, TN 37841 on June 25.  Graveside service will be at Hazel Valley Memorial Cemetery, 312 Douglas Lane, Oneida, TN 37841 at 2:00 p.m. (EDT).

Keeton is survived by his brothers Ronald and Arnold Keeton and sisters Violet Davis and Doris Thompson.

Governor Haslam |Veterans Services