Which brings us to Air Force PJ Davide Keaton.
Keaton is running in this year’s insane Leadville trail 100 run, a 100 mile ultra-marathon across heinous Colorado Rockies terrain taking place August 18th. He is raising money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides education funds to the children of those killed in training or combat missions.
Keaton first got involved in SOW foundation back in 2008, after some of his teammates were lost during combat operations. Last year, he and his partners managed to raise over $32,000 for the foundation, while making it over 60 miles through the timed event. Determined to go even further this year, Keaton told me he was running in honor of fellow PJs and good friends Dan Zerbe and John Brown, and Combat Controller Andy Harvell, all lost in the Chinook shot down last year.
I had the privilege of having Keaton as one of my instructors back in the day going through selection. He was as tough, fit, and highly motivating then as he is now. Check out this excerpt from his 2008 William H. Pitsenbarger award:
During a high-risk infiltration into a Taliban stronghold, with dozens of Mujahadeen (a military force of Muslim guerilla warriors engaged in a jihad) guarding high-value interests, Sergeant Keaton and his team were ambushed. They immediately engaged the hostiles, gained fire superiority, and suppressed the militants with fire. The enemy fighters responded by using women and children as human shields.
Recognizing the necessity for a timely response, and totally disregarding mortal danger, Sergeant Keaton rushed 150 meters through a barrage of enemy fire to the first casualty; a seven-year-old boy who had been shot in the pelvis. Selflessly shielding the boy from incoming fire with his own body, Sergeant Keaton conducted an initial assessment of the patient, moved 30 meters to safe cover, adroitly dressed his wounds, administered medicine, and set up a casualty collection point (CCP).
Anticipating more casualties, Sergeant Keaton, in the midst of extreme danger, resumed his search in the deadly gunfight. He quickly located the second casualty 40 meters from the CCP. This time, it was an eight-year-old boy bleeding profusely from multiple gunshot wounds. Sergeant Keaton rapidly occluding life-threatening hemorrhages, checked and stabilized the patient’s spinal cord, and carried him to the CCP through an onslaught of enemy fire.
Sergeant Keaton continued his search and rescue operation by crossing the hazardous battlefield three more times. A woman, an 11-year-old female, and a 15-year-old female were found and treated by the PJ. Sergeant Keaton continued lifesaving emergency trauma care during a 30-minute flight to the field hospital, enabling immediate surgical intervention and critical communication regarding the patients’ injuries. Because of Sergeant Keaton’s flawless patient turnover with the hospital surgical team, the doctors credited him with the preservation of all five patients.
Read more about it here.
I know that these are tough economic times for a lot of people. But if their was ever a great cause and a great event, this is it. The man is going on a 100 mile run, for Christ’s sake. Not to mention a fellow teammate, combat controller Chris Larkin, is doing the 100 mile mountain bike version. So send anything you can right here. Their goal is to raise at least $25,000.00 this year; make it happen!