Active amateur radio operator Don Keith N4KC has just published his 32nd book, the true story of a little-known hero of World War II, assisted by co-author David Rocco. “The Indestructible Man” tells the amazing story of Navy officer Dixie Kiefer who was an instrumental player in major battles in World War II. Kiefer was the executive officer on the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown at both the Battle of the Coral Sea and Battle of Midway. He was the last man off Yorktown before she sank at Midway. Though seriously hurt, Kiefer swam through shark-infested waters pushing a life raft filled with badly injured sailors toward a rescue ship. Later, as captain of the carrier USS Ticonderoga, Kiefer’s ship came under a vicious attack by kamikaze aircraft. Though critically wounded by flying shrapnel, he remained on the bridge, overseeing counter-attacks and damage control for twelve hours.
Later, while presenting Kiefer an award for valor, the Secretary of the Navy dubbed him “the indestructible man.” That ultimately proved not to be the case. Just after the end of the war, the beloved “Captain Dixie”—as his men called him—was killed along with five other Navy men in an airplane crash on Mount Beacon, New York, near Poughkeepsie.
Kiefer was known as a “sailor’s skipper,” never asking his crew to do anything he was not willing to do. He was the first man to fly an airplane off a ship at night. He successfully steered his big carrier through a killer typhoon that took the lives of more than 800 men throughout the Allied fleet. His morale-building “cocktail clubs” were legendary. And he even played a role in a motion picture titled “The Fighting Lady,” which won the Academy Award for documentary feature.
The story of Dixie Kiefer, as well as that of the other men who died with him on the mountain on Armistice Day 1945, is one of the most inspiring tales to come out of World War II. “Captain Dixie” was a brilliant leader of men and gave true hope through a fierce war, not only to those who served under him but to the nation as a whole.
Don Keith N4KC is a best-selling and award-winning writer, an Amateur Extra-class licensee, and a member of the American Radio Relay League. He is active on the air in contests, DXing, and ragchewing, and on all modes. He has published three books about amateur radio: “Riding the Shortwaves: Exploring the Magic of Amateur Radio,” “Get on the Air…Now!,” and “The Amateur Radio Dictionary.”