Laurence B. Keiser
|Laurence Bolton Keiser|
June 1, 1895|
|Died||October 20, 1969
San Francisco, California
|Buried at||United States Military Academy Post Cemetery, West Point, New York|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1917 - 1951|
|Commands held||2nd Infantry Division|
|Battles/wars||World War I
World War II
Legion of Merit (2)
World War I
Dispatched to France with the American Expeditionary Force during World War I, Keiser was quickly promoted to temporary captain and appointed to command of 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, a unit of the 5th Division. He was awarded the Silver Star for actions on the Western Front.
Post-World War I
Keiser was stationed with the 15th Infantry Regiment in Tientsin, China from March 1920 to June 1922. In 1923 he graduated from the Infantry Company Officers’ Course at Fort Benning. He then served as a battalion commander in the 23rd Infantry Regiment at Fort Sam Houston. From 1924 to 1928, Keiser served as a Company Tactical Officers at West Point, responsible for instructing and mentoring members of the Corps of Cadets.
After his assignment at West Point, Keiser returned to Fort Sam Houston as the commander of a company in the 9th Infantry. In 1932 he completed the Infantry Officer Advanced Course at Fort Benning, after which he returned to Fort Sam Houston as advisor and mentor to units of the Army Reserve.
In 1939 Keiser graduated from the United States Army Command and General Staff College, after which he was assigned to Fort Benning as executive officer and then commander of the 29th Infantry Regiment.
World War II
In April 1942, Keiser was assigned as chief of staff of III Corps at Fort McPherson. He then served as VI Corps chief of staff during the North African and Italian Campaigns. In January 1944, he was promoted to brigadier general and assigned as chief of staff of the Fourth Army at Fort Sam Houston.
Post-World War II
In November 1948, Keiser was made assistant division commander of the 2nd Infantry Division. In February 1950, his former West Point classmate Joe Collins gave him command of the division, together with a promotion to major general. Following the outbreak of the Korean War, the 2nd Division was the first United States army unit to arrive in Korea from mainland United States.
From August to September, the division disembarked at Pusan and moved to the Naktong Bulge to assist the 24th Infantry Division, which was then struggling to restore its front line following the crossing of the Naktong River by the North Korean 4th Division.
When the North Koreans launched the Great Naktong Offensive, four divisions faced the 2nd. Some units of the 2nd Infantry Division did not perform well on first contact with the enemy, and Keiser displayed lack of knowledge of his division's situation when he was confronted by Lieutenant General Walton Walker, the commander of the Eighth Army. Keiser was already considered by some officers to be slightly too old for an outstanding division commander.
The 2nd Division was involved in the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, pushing north west towards Kunsan, together with the 25th Infantry Division. The division would advance well into North Korea, close to the China–North Korea border.
In late November 1950, a large Chinese force crossed over the Yalu River and launched a surprise attack on the United Nations forces in what was to be known as the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River. The 2nd Division had been advancing on the right flank of IX Corps, which was then pushing to the Yalu River, and was positioned north of Kunu-ri, with the 25th Infantry Division on its left flank. In a swift week-long attack, the Chinese threatened to envelop the Eighth Army, with the 2nd Division exposed on the right and bearing the brunt of the enveloping movement. The 25th Division was able to withdraw to Anju, but Keiser was unable to obtain permission from Major General John B. Coulter to follow. The 2nd Division was eventually cut off and forced to fight its way through the Chinese to safety at Sunchon.
Following the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River, during which 2nd Division suffered crippling losses of approximately 4,000 men, Keiser met with Major General Leven C. Allen, the chief of staff of the Eighth Army, in Seoul. He was relieved of his command and replaced with Major General Robert B. McClure, supposedly for medical reasons, although he felt he was being made a scapegoat for the reverses suffered by the United Nations following the Chinese intervention in the war.
Returning to the United States in February, 1951, he assumed command of the 5th Infantry Division at Indiantown Gap Military Reservation (IGMR) an infantry basic training camp in Pennsylvania near Hershey and Harrisburg. He retired in 1953, and settled in San Francisco.
- Blair, 1987, p. 201 – 202
- Halberstam, 2007, p. 268 – 269
- Korean Institute of Military History, 2000, p. 446
- Blair, 1987, p. 198 – 201
- Blair, 1987, p. 279
- Spurr, 1989, p. 190 – 194
- Stokesbury, 1988, p. 104
- Halberstam, 2007, p. 472 – 473
- Find A Grave
- Blair, Clay (1987), The Forgotten War. Times Books, New York.
- Halberstam, David (2007), The Coldest Winter: America And The Korean War. Hyperion, New York.
- Korean Institute of Military History (2000), The Korean War: Volume 1. Bison Books, Lincoln, Nebraska.
- Spurr, Russell (1989), Enter the Dragon: China at War in Korea. Sidgewick & Jackson, London.
- Stokesbury, James L. (1988), A Short History of the Korean War. Quill, New York.
- Weintraub, Stanley (2001), MacArthur's War: Korea and the Undoing of an American Hero. Touchstone
Major General Harry J. Collins
|Commanding General of the 2nd Infantry Division
April 1950 – December 1951
Major General Robert B. McClure