Michael Andrew O'Keefe, Jr

Private First Class
Army of the United States
16 June 1949 - 29 November 1969
New York, New York
Panel 15W Line 007

Michael A O'Keefe Photo from Sgt Bill Hoop

Combat Infantry

National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Michael Andrew O'Keefe, Jr

Love from his sister, Mary

Takes my hair, turns on the light
Pulls me near, kisses me goodnight
Feelings were the same right then and there
He didn't have to tell me, I knew he cared.

I love him, my brother, but he must go
Off into combat where spirits are low
He'll be gone kind of long and far away
Accepting each hour as it comes his way.

He knows I will miss him and I'll try not to cry
But only tomorrow he'll be gone from my side
I'll try not to cry 'cause I know he feels bad
But when you love your brother you've got to feel sad.

It's hard to say goodbye to a brother like this
He's always smiling and he'll always be missed
I know I will cry when he leaves us tomorrow
But I love Michael so my heart's filled with sorrow.

There's nothing that can stop my tears when he leaves
So God, take care of him, please
He's the world's greatest brother and we love him a lot
Watch over him Lord, he's the greatest and tops.

Nobody in the world has a brother live mine
He's one in a million and they're hard to find
We don't have to speak about the love we share
'Cause, me and my brother, we know it's there.

Excerpt from Parish Bulletin of St. Raymond's Church, Bronx New York, December 21, 1969

Fifth Gold Star on the Parish Honor Roll of Heroic Service to our Country

PFC Michael O'Keefe, made the supreme sacrifice in Vietnam. On Saturday, December 13th, at 11:30 am, the Concelebrated Mass of Requiem (with Resurrection emphasis) was offered for this 20 year old parishioner who graduated from our Elementary and High Schools. Monsignor Joseph Quinn was the principal celebrant. He officiated at the marriage of Michael's parents and at the baptism of Michael. The latter's twenty-two year old Sister is married. On December 7th, her second child was baptized. Michael has a Brother in our High School, a Sister in our Academy, a Brother in the 7th Grade and a Sister in the 1st Grade. His Dad is a Sergeant in the Bathgate Avenue Precinct.

At the Mass and Cemetery, Michael received the honors of one in military service. The members of the Police Department, associates of his Dad, came in large numbers to honor the heroic, dedicated Son of an associate. The people of St. Raymond's, young and old, participated in the manifestation of love for this young man, his Parents, Grandparents (Mr. and Mrs. Quinn of our parish), his relatives and friends.

Michael joins Thomas Pretter, John Gordon, Orville Hill and John T. Ryan of our parish in the list of honored dead as well as Dennis Russo of our Boys' High School and Lt. John Philip Goggin of our Elementary School.

The Pastor, Monsignor Schultheiss, a Concelebrant at the Funeral Mass with Monsignor Quinn, Father Robert Banome of St. Joseph's Parish, Bathgate Avenue, Father Flynn assisted by Deacon James Sullivan, was the homilist. He used the following letter which Michael's Dad wrote to the Pastor while the family was waiting for return of their Son's body from Vietnam:

Dear Monsignor Schultheiss,

I find this letter hard to write. On this writing pad I wrote many letters to my Son, Michael. Many a day I sat down and thought of what I should say to him - 12,000 miles away. Now I have a different letter to compose; a letter of gratitude written with deep sorrow.

Michael was the Son of my Wife Mary and me. From the day he was carried into St. Raymond's Church to become baptized, on the day Father Quinn said I baptize thee "Michael", he became part of the Church. The Church as a whole, but particularly a part of St. Raymond's Parish. Many a time he walked the aisles of St. Raymond's; first a small tot, then his First Communion, his Confirmation, to Mass on Sunday, to Confession on Saturday, as a proud usher at his Sister's wedding and again as a Godfather.

Michael was a good person. A product of St. Raymond's. His character was not molded by one alone. It was a continuous process, the work of many: the Teacher who took him gently by the hand and ushered him into Kindergarten for his first day of school; the lay Teachers and Sisters of Charity who guided him through his early years; the Brothers who took over from them and helped him mentally, physically and spiritually; the many Priests, who through sermons over the many years reached him although they may never have had the gratification of knowing so. He was a quiet boy of the parish.

To us, he was our Son, to his Sisters and Brothers, their Big Brother; to his girl - young love; to his Grandparents, Grandson. To others, he was Uncle; others, Nephew; others, Cousin; others, Godfather; to a neighbor, a neighbor's child; others, a Classmate, to his Friends, their Friend; to his Teachers, their pupil; to the Priest, a child, a boy, a man, a soul and to God, he was His.

My Son was not a protestor nor was he a patriot. He was just a young man who knew little of the war his father was in and little of the war in which his Grandfather fought. Even in Vietnam, he wanted to know about his family, parents, sisters and brothers, friends, and what events went on in the neighborhood. His world was of the young; their talk, their companionship, their records, his car, hamburgers and coke, ball games and his girl.

At the 10:30 Mass on Sunday, December 7th, a friend named John talked about a friend named Michael.

At the 8 o'clock Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, when our family sat there and heard his name pronounced as one of the dead of the parish, we were saddened. We were also consoled. What a tribute to a quiet young boy of the parish to have a Mass said for him with so many of the parishioners present; the people who received Holy Communion; the ones who prayed out loud and the ones who prayed without moving their lips. The sermon delivered by Father Flynn; the presence of yourself Monsignor, Monsignor Quinn and Father Eremito at the altar! As you also pointed out, the presence of the young of the parish who came to pray for him.

Now in a short while, Michael will again be carried in St. Raymond's Church. Not for the joy of Baptism but the Mass for the Dead. We will have sorrow because we are human. Maybe at times we will say, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken us?" It will be the last time his physical body will enter and leave St. Raymond's. We know, however, that our Son, Michael, whom we had for twenty wonderful years, the Big Brother, the Boyfriend, Student, Nephew, Friend, Soldier, Neighbor, Parishioner is no longer ours on earth, he is His.

Thank you for being a Pastor to us in our time of grief.

/s/ Michael O'Keefe Sr.

Mike O'Keefe's funeral

Michael O'Keefe was assigned to E Company,
but was on patrol with B/1/11 when he died.

May 6, 1999

Dear Peggy,

You don't know how many times I've thought about that November 29th over the years.

I'll try to explain things the best I can and if there are any questions feel free to contact me anytime.

First let me explain the situation with being with Bravo Company that day. We were Echo Company or Company E which is a mortar company consisting of 4 81 MM mortar tubes; the other Company's were infantry which was Bravo. When the infantry went to the field a lot of the time they would send a mortar tube along to give fire support. We had been out with this Company before and the Captain thought we were the best in Company E so he always requested us. The patrols usually lasted from 7 to 14 days depending how much activity you had. We were normally choppered out and back in when we were done, however, on this patrol the hill we set up on had a river about a quarter of a mile away and they used a boat to resupply us. On the night of the 28th, we took some small arms fire from the direction of where the boat was, nothing serious and no casualties. The next day we loaded the boat with our equipment and gun crew along with several other personnel and started down the river with the infantry going back in on the tanks. We got about a mile down river and the dog handler who was seated in the front of the boat hollered we were sinking and as I turned to look and stand up, the boat went out from under us. Michael and another guy from our gun crew by the name of Matthews, the dog handler, the guy running the boat and an FTO didn't make it in.

As to the question of how well I knew him he was assigned to our gun crew from the time he came to us until he died. We were literally together 24 hours a day. As a gun crew you have to work well together to make yours the best gun in the Company, and as I stated before the CO of Company B thought we were. Everybody has to know their jobs and Michael was one of the best. We spent a lot of time playing cards during slack times; it wasn't all work. I considered him a very, very good friend.

As far as pictures I'm very sorry to say that I do not have any. I only came home with about 15 to 20 total. Of those none were of Michael. My camera went into the river with my rucksack and it ruined my film that was in it. Before I came home someone stole the box of pictures I had in my footlocker at Camp Red Devil so I have very few. If you want I could send you copies of some of these so you could see the area we were in.

As I said before feel free to contact me and I'll try to answer any other questions I can. I just want to say in closing I considered Michael a very NEAR and DEAR FRIEND.

Ken Bohlken

From his sister,
Peggy Pellicano
21 Nov 2001

14 Nov 2002

A cousin lost at an early age. Always on my mind, forever in my heart.

Robert O'Keefe
E-mail address is not available.

November 29, 2001


Susan called us tonight to tell us about this Memorial for Michael. It is so beautiful, it brought tears to our eyes. I think about Michael often. It is hard to believe that so many years have gone by. 5 years ago, my youngest daughter's class went on a trip to Washington, D.C. and we were able to visit the Vietnam Memorial. Each child who had someone that they or their family knew on The Wall was given a flower to place at the foot of the stone.

Danielle did this for Michael.

Fred & I have some letters that he wrote us from Nam. He was really a very gentle person and from the turn out at his funeral, loved by so many. When we all learned of his death, it was the first time I ever saw my own father cry. Because of the time of year that Michael's funeral was, the whole block didn't want to do any Christmas decorating out of respect and deep sorrow for the loss of Michael to your family and all of us. Your father came to each house and told us that Michael would not have wanted Christmas to be a sad time and asked everyone to put Christmas lights up. I still have his picture, and so does my mother, that your family gave to all the neighbors.

We all loved him and I believe that he watches over all of us from his place in Heaven. God's blessings on you and all of your family.

Georgette Falco Rothe

December 8, 2001

Dear Peggy,

I just viewed the memorial to your brother Michael and cannot begin to tell you how beautiful a tribute it was. Your Dad's letter was so beautiful and full of love. Mary's poem was so touching. I don't think many people in the world are capable of giving so much love as your family. May you and your wonderful family get some comfort in knowing that people will get to learn a bit more about your dear brother through this memorial. Thank you for sharing it with me.

Thanks for including me in the Memorial Mass for Ray. I miss him so much, but can close my eyes and years and years of beautiful memories are there. May he and Michael be resting in peace with one another along with your dear, sweet Mom. Take care, much peace and happiness for the holidays,

Kathy Love

18 Mar 2003

I leave May 18, 2003, to ride in Michaels's Honor in the "Run for the Wall".
I'm sure his spirit will be with me and keeping me safe.

May God Bless each and every soul that is listed on the Wall and especially their families.
I know they miss their loved ones just as much now as they did the first day they were taken from us.

God Bless America, God Bless Michael and of course God Bless you Peggy, you are obviously a good sister.

With Respect and Love
Daemien Padraic Kenneally O'Keeffe
A distant cousin (all O'Keeffe's are related)

28 May 2003

Whenever I think of Michael I think of a sweet, gentle, good natured person with a great sense of humor. I first met Michael one night when my dad and I were over at the O'Keefe's for a visit. My dad often went over and on this particular evening he asked me to come with him. It was a nice night with lots of discussions between my Dad and Mr. O' on various topics. Later that evening as we were all sitting around the dining room table having tea and cake, Michael came in. We said hello to one another and he stayed around for some of the conversation. Later in the week I received a phone call asking me out. That was the start of a wonderful time in my life. Michael and I just hit if off right away. He was easy to talk to and lots of fun. He was so gentle and considerate and always had that mischievious gleam in his eye. It was a wonderful introduction to love and one that will stay with me always. It is a gift I will always treasure. Not only did I get to meet a wonderful boy but I also got to have a wonderful second family. Without them the loss of Michael would have been even more devastating. I am proud to have known and loved Michael and continue to love him and all the O's always. Peggy, you were so little when you lost your brother; I know that he is smiling down on you and is proud of this wonderful site you have set up for him. God bless all the O's.

Love, Mary

From Mary K McGrath (nee McPartland)
E-mail address is not available.

21 Nov 2004


It has been 35 years since you left this world. We grew up together as cousins. We always had fun - we were close, I think because of the age we were. We were in the second tier of cousins, Jimmy, Danny, you and I.

I remember all the good times we had at the beach at Section 8, the family parties and the family visits. You enriched my life as well as others' with your willingness to help and your cheerful outlook on life.

I miss you a lot - There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about you. I miss you a lot. I know you are in a better place now. Your life was short but full. You accomplished a lot with your life.

From a cousin,
Steve O'Keefe

19 Jul 2005

Dear family,

I am currently writing this from Iraq. It is now my second tour concerning the war on terrorism {first was in Afghanistan} and am truly proud of it, I would do more if possible but I have made the decision to finish my enlistment to follow my dreams back home in New York.

My father was first cousins with Michael and as a young boy I remember him explaining who Michael was and what great things he had done for this country. I am very proud to be from such a fine line of blood. I know that my late cousin Michael, whom obviously I've never met, had gotten much support from this great family just as I get now. The torch is passed and I carry it high. Semper Fidelis

CPL Kevin O'Keefe
Fox Co, 2nd Bn, 8th Marines
United States Marines

28 Mar 2007

Mike, we were all first cousins and there were a lot of us. I was 2 years younger and was a patriot at the time and in 2007 I still am. But there is not a family member who doesn't talk about you to the ones you never met - our children. I also think about you a lot and am very proud of your service. I love you and miss you!

Your cousin,

02 Jun 2007

Michael, Memorial Day 2007 just passed. You're on my mind all year. You will never be forgotten for your sacrifice. Your cuz, Donald!

Donald J O'Keefe
3061 Bailey Ave, Bronx, New York

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The five men who died in the accident are
  • SP4 Calvin Bernard Matthews, Washington DC, E/1/11
  • PFC Richard Howard Boise, Marion NY, E/1/11
  • PFC Michael Andrew O'Keefe, New York NY, E/1/11
  • PFC John Michael Piasecki, Chicago IL, dog handler, 43rd Inf Plt (Scout Dog)
  • PFC Larry Elliott Watson, Pageland SC, E/1/11

Top of Page

Virtual Wall icon

Back to
To alpha index O
NY State Index . Panel 15W
11TH INF RGT Index

Contact Us

With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 21 Nov 2001
Last updated 08/10/2009