Sioux County

2nd Lt LeRoy Keizer

Born 16 Aug 1920
Died 06 Dec 1944


LeRoy Warren Keizer, age 24, a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1094th USA Signal Company, died early in the morning of December 6, 1944. Japanese troops hidden in a small plot of Leyte Island’s jungle made a dawn attack on his outfit with knifes, bayonets and guns, slaying 14 members, including Keizer, and thirteen of the enlisted personnel.

Born August 16, 1920 in Plymouth County, IA, LeRoy Keizer was the son of Gerben Jr. and Amy Lucille (Darville) Keizer. He attended elementary school in Plymouth County, then at Fairview, S.D. when his parents moved to an Iowa farm across the Sioux River from that town. The family later moved to Hawarden IA, where he graduated from High School, having participated in 1935 and 1936 classes and activities, during which he excelled in athletics and enjoyed the declamatory class. He was one of the leading characters in the class play, “Tiger House” and also was elected Class President and Class Treasurer.

LeRoy was a cheerful, hard worker very much loved by his family consisting of mother, father, older brother Eugene, and younger siblings Doris and Milton Keizer. He joined the Methodist Church as a teenager, became an Epworth League member having perfect attendance, and later was an instructor for a class of young churchgoers. An excellent ball player, he pitched both baseball and softball and was an outstanding batter.

LeRoy was skilled with either a drafting pen or paintbrush, as for example the large “GK Feeds” sign that hung on the exterior of the Hawarden Feed Mill for many years. Had he survived WWII, LeRoy intended to join his father in business at the mill for some time. Also, after college, wedding bells were to ring for him and his fiancé Blanche Hawkins, the daughter of his mother’s childhood friend…a hoped-for event in both mothers’ hearts, but never to be realized.

Studies at Iowa State College gained LeRoy a B.S. Degree in Electrical Engineering in 1943. He also participated in ballgames there, playing for a Ward team. Organizations he joined at Ames were A.I.E.E. Technical Society, Student branch; Honor Fraternity--Ward Key; and YMCA. He participated in Ward Executive Council, Ward System, Ward Athletic Council (President as a Junior), Ward News, Sports Editor, Student Activities Council, Independent Party Council, Intramural Board, and R.O.T.C. He entered military service after graduation and was schooled in Radar and Radio Communications before shipping overseas to serve his country.

Lt. Keizer chose the United States Army Air Force over other wartime options offered him…at RCA and Naval Research, both of which listed him among the top handful of U.S. graduates his Senior year. He put himself at risk in doing so, and that risk was further compounded by a “switch” with another officer who became ill on the voyage to Leyte Island in the Philippines. Instead of receiving the communications aboard ship, LeRoy was assigned to the shore party. There, in a supposedly “cleared” area, he and his men set up camp on the only partly-dry, slight hump of land left near some Army artillery and infantry encampments. Another officer shared the tent with him, and became a wheelchair-bound survivor as a result of paralyzing stab wounds to his back, but was able to personally relate to LeRoy’s father the manner of his death.

Leroy Warren Keizer was laid to rest in Hawarden, IA’s Grace Hill Cemetery February 11, 1945, at the right side of his father’s chosen burial plot. Gerben Keizer Jr. joined him there in 1970. In 1998 Amy Keizer was returned to earth at the left side of her husband. LeRoy’s marker is a white stone like so many other military white grave markers in Grace Hill. It is a well-cut, clean stone and a bright, sun-lit one…just like his life.

Source: Obituary written by his younger brother, Milt Keizer;
Photograph provided by Milt Keizer.


Hawarden, Ia.—Special:  Lt. LeRoy W. Keizer, 24, son of Mr. and Mrs. Gerben Keizer of Hawarden, was killed in action on December 6 on Leyte island, his parents have been informed by the War Department.

Lt. Keizer was graduated from the electrical engineering course at Iowa State College at Ames in March, 1943.  While still a student at Iowa State, he enlisted in the signal corps, starting his training immediately after his graduation at Fort Monmouth, N. J., and later at Ashbury Park, N. J.  He then took four months of intensive training at General Electric corporation’s radio and electronics school for signal corps officers at Schenectady, N. Y.

After a few months in the field at Camp Murphy, Fla., Robins field, Ga., and Camp Kearns, Utah, he went overseas and was in charge of a radar group on a small Netherlands East Indies island.  In the latter part of November, he was transferred to Leyte island.

Besides his parents, Lt. Keizer is survived by two brothers and a sister. They are Eugene Keizer, of Princeton, N. J., and Doris and Milton, at home. Gerben Keizer, his father, is president of the Hawarden chamber of commerce.

Source: The Sioux City Journal, January 19, 1945 (photo included)


Lt. LeRoy W. Keizer, son of Mr. and Mrs. Gerben Keizer of Hawarden, was killed in action on December 6, 1944, on Leyte in the Philippines.

Lt. Keizer was born on August 18, 1920, on a farm in Plymouth County and attended rural schools in both Plymouth and Sioux counties. The family have the sympathies of everyone.

Source: LeMars Sentinel, January 26, 1945

Former Seney Boy Organized Non-Combat Troops and Wiped Out Japs

Lieut. LeRoy W. Keizer of Hawarden, who was reported killed on Leyte Island on December 6, 1944, met his death in action, fighting fanatical Jap paratroopers, it was learned last Friday by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gerben Keizer, the Hawarden Independent reports.

A letter from Lieut. Keizer’s commanding officer provided the first definite information of the manner of the Hawarden youth’s death since the parents received the first brief message from the War Department on January 21, in which they were advised that a confirming letter would follow.

The letter, written by Lieut. William Holbrook, commanding the signal company service group to which Lieut. Keizer was attached, was dated December 13, 1944, but did not reach Hawarden until March 30. It follows:

It is with deepest regret that I write you of the death of your son, 2nd Lt. LeRoy W. Keizer. LeRoy was killed 6 December, 1944, at Burauen, Leyte, Philippine Islands, as a result of wounds received in action against the enemy.

There is little consolation for you to alleviate your suffering in the loss of your son, but permit me to say that millions of Americans know that he died for them, as well as for you, and we all know that no greater sacrifice can be made.

LeRoy did not suffer at all, as the end came very suddenly.

You have the deepest sympathy of the officers and men of this organization in your bereavement. LeRoy was held in high regard by all members of this command. He was a splendid officer and an outstanding character. His loss will be deeply felt by his many friends.

LeRoy was buried in a military cemetery at Burauen, Philippine Islands, on the afternoon of 6 December, 1944, with services by a Protestant chaplain.

Permit me to express my own personal sympathy in your loss. Please feel free to write for any additional information you may desire. [end of letter]

From other authentic sources, Mr. and Mrs. Keizer later learned what happened to their son’s outfit that fateful day. The U. S. Air Force of which it was a part was firmly established on the island and functioning smoothly. No one considered it remotely possible that a horde of fanatical Japs could appear out of thin air, but that’s just what happened at dawn on December 6.

About 150 Japs had infiltrated into the American lines during the night and attacked at dawn. The men of Lieut. Keizer’s outfit, not originally trained as a combat unit, battled the enemy with everything they had, formed into a defense line and fought a holding action against the fierce onslaught of the Japs.

Then enemy planes arrived and dropped a couple of hundred Jap paratroopers. The battle continued for several days until the Japs were wiped out, but not until they had taken their toll of American lives. Lieut. Keizer was killed on the first day of the action.

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, April 9, 1945