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May 20, 2023 Honor Flight: Navy veteran, Keith “Peachie” Keehn of West Bend, WI

Washington County, WI – On Saturday, May 20, 2023, 76-year-old Navy veteran Keith “Peachie” Keehn of West Bend, WI, will be joining 14 other Washington County vets on the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight to Washington D.C.

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After encouragement from one of his high school teachers, Keith Keehn enlisted in the US Navy at the age of 18. “I told my teacher who was in the Navy Reserves that I wanted to be an electrician. He told me to sign up with the Navy and go for electrician, so I did. I joined as a “Kitty Cruiser” which meant I’d be serving for three years,” Keehn said.

Kitty-cruise definition: An enlistment in the United States Navy starting before one’s eighteenth birthday and, therefore, ending before his twenty-first.

Keehn enlisted through Milwaukee and signed up to go to San Diego, CA because he had never been to California before.


“Then they sent me to Port Hueneme in CA for nine months on a temporary assignment where I studied under other electricians. Then I went back to Electrician’s Mate class “A” (EMA) school in San Diego,” said Keehn.

Following his electrician training, Keehn wanted to go to the east coast. He was stationed in Charleston, SC on a guided missile destroyer leader, USS Macdonough as an electrician.


We cruised the Mediterranean, “I was over there in June of ’67 which was during the 6-Day War between Israel and Egypt [Arabs] which I didn’t know anything about during the time. I was in the 6th Fleet. The USS Liberty was attacked by Israel and almost sunk and 30-some soldiers died. I was over there during that whole thing.” The ship was under the command of the National Security Agency (NSA) and was a spy ship. “It was among the worst attacks in history against a noncombatant U.S. naval vessel,” according to USSLibertyVeterans.com.

Keehn attained the rank of Third Class by the time of his honorable discharge from the Navy.

Keehn has been married to his wife, Barbara for over 20 years. “We met at a picnic in West Bend,” said Keehn. Together they have a blended family of six children and nine grandchildren.

After his time in service, Keehn took after his Dad and continued his career in civilian life as an electrician. “I went to Milwaukee to join Union #494. There was such a long line I couldn’t get in. I talked to a friend who told me to apply at the Electric Company as there were ‘usually three guys on the ground watching one guy work up in the air,” said Keehn with a chuckle. Keehn was a lineman for Wisconsin Electric for 25 years, then turned to carpentry following that.

Bluegrass is in Keehn’s soul and fingertips as he is an accomplished musician, playing guitar, mandolin, and upright bass. “I played for over 30 years around the area with Big Cedar Bluegrass Band,” he said. Keehn still plays occasionally when he isn’t hunting, fishing or enjoying his property near Redgranite, WI. He continues to stay busy with carpentry and has spent time remodeling homes.

Keehn belongs to American Legion Post #36. “I was president of the Washington County Historical Society for around 6-7 years. I was involved with rendezvous/reenactment of fur trapping in the 1820s and had an 18-foot teepee. My son is still doing it. It was a good family thing.”

Mary Zaremba of West Bend, Keehn’s daughter, will be accompanying him on the Honor Flight.

The Honor Flight is symbolic to Keehn, “I had an uncle that was in WWII. He was a B24 bomber pilot. His plane went down in the Pacific Ocean, and he never was found. I had another uncle who was a SSG Tank Commander for General Patton. He was wounded in Germany. I’m going for those guys,” said Keehn. He is also looking forward to seeing the monuments.

Looking forward to the most on the Honor Flight? I had an uncle that was in WWII B24- bomber pilot in Pac ocean. Plane went down, never found. Another uncle, SSG tank commander for Patton. Wounded in Germany. Going for those guys and I want to look at the monument.

“In the Navy I got to see a lot. I would never have been able to Europe – Italy, Greece, Turkey – otherwise.”

Keehn is one of 15 veterans from Washington County, WI
that are traveling on the May 20 Honor Flight


While 15 veterans from Washington County, WI are on the May 20, 2023 flight, two have asked that their names not be published.

Click HERE to read stories about other Washington Co. veterans on the

May 20, 2023 Stars and Stripes Honor Flight

Stars and Stripes Honor Flight is the Milwaukee area hub of the Honor Flight Network.  Founded in 2008, Stars and Stripes Honor Flight has flown more than 7,600 WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans from southeastern Wisconsin on a one-day, all-expense-paid trip to Washington D.C.

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