World War II Honor Roll

Wilbur Charles Keckhut

Fire Controlman, First Class
U.S. Navy



Entered the Service from: New Jersey
Died: May 5, 1945
Buried at: Locustwood Cemetery
                  Route 70 and Cooper Landing Road
                  Cherry Hill NJ
Awards: Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal

FIRE CONTROLMAN FIRST CLASS WILBUR CHARLES KECKHUT grew up in Collingswood NJ. Born January 17, 1920, he was the the first son of Richard P. and Joetta Turner Keckhut. His father was a fireman, and the family lived in 1930 with Joetta's widowed mother at 902 Collings Avenue. Besides Wilbur, there was an older sister, Dorothea, and three boys Richard, Walter, and Henry. 

Wilbur Keckhut attended high school in Collingswood NJ as a member of the Collingswood High class of 1940. He lived with his wife, Gertrude Elizabeth Keckhut, at 362 Dudley Street, in the then new Westfield Acres Apartments in Camden NJ. He had enlisted in the Navy reserve on July 15, 1940, in Camden. serving initially on the USS Decatur. The Decatur at that time was based at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and the Brooklyn NY Navy Yard. Trained as a range finder and sight setter on a gun crew, he took part in the Decatur's patrols of the Gulf of Mexico and areas near Key West FL. In August of 1941 he was sent to Washington to attend Fire Control school.

After Pearl Harbor he returned to the Decatur, and took part in her patrols near Iceland in March 1942. On May 6, he was returned to Boston Navy Yard. He took ill and was operated at the Norfolk Naval Hospital in June 1942. Returning to active service, he took part in action in the Mediterranean near Tunis, Algiers, Sicily, and at Anzio. He returned to the United States on Christmas, 1943, and was sent to Washington.

He returned to the east coast, and in March of 1944 he was assigned to a destroyer, the USS Ingraham (DD-694).

The Ingraham (DD-694) was launched 16 January 1944 by Federal Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Kearny, N.J.; sponsored by Mrs. George Ingraham Hutchinson; and commissioned 10 March 1944, with Commander. H.W. Gordon in command. 

  After shakedown in Bermuda and training out of Norfolk, Ingraham sailed for duty with the Pacific Fleet, arriving Eniwetok 31 October in time to begin the final push of the enemy to its home islands. In mid-November she commenced screening carriers during strikes on Luzon in which considerable damage was done to the dwindling Japanese navy and air force. The destroyer continued patrol and antisubmarine duty until 12 December when she sailed for the assault and landings on Mindoro. Three days later in company with Barton, she sank a Japanese cargo ship off the southwest tip of Mindoro. 

   After a brief stay, she departed San Pedro 2 January 1945, for the operations in the Lingayen Gulf. Arriving off the Gulf on the sixth, she added her powerful anti-aircraft fire to that of the invasion fleet, and bombarded shore targets behind the beaches. 

   At the end of January, Ingraham joined a fast carrier task force for strikes on the Japanese homeland. Following repair at Saipan 20 February, she joined the invasion fleet off Iwo Jima 23 February, and provided accurate call fire for the Marines ashore. 

   On 21 March the ship took up radar picket station in support of the Okinawa-Gunto operation. On 5 May, she came under concerted air attack, and shot down four of the enemy planes before a fifth crashed the ship above the waterline on the port side, its bomb exploding in the generator room. With only 1 gun operative, and with 51 casualties aboard, Ingraham retired to Hunter's Point, Calif., for repairs. 


Wilbur Keckhut was killed in action during this action. Besides his wife, he left three brothers, Walter, Henry, and Richard P. Keckhut Jr.

Fire Controlman First Class Keckhut was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, the Purple Heart, the American Theater Ribbon, the European Theater Ribbon  with four Battle Stars, the South Pacific and Asiatic Theater Ribbon with six battle stars, and the pre-Pearl Harbor ribbon.

After the war, his body was returned to New Jersey. He rests at Locustwood Cemetery in Cherry Hill NJ, near his parents.

Camden Courier-Post - July 3, 1945

Click on the Pictures
Enlarged Views


May 13, 1949

Click on Image to Enlarge

* Wilbur Keckhut's rank was reported as Fire Controlman Second Class in the Department of Navy Casualty Lists issued in 1946. Newspaper accounts and his grave marker indicate the higher rank.