World War II tore the world apart and brought our country together as young men and women served their nation with valor. One of those courageous servicemen, Keith Little, joined the Navy at 18, traveling across the world from his hometown of Morgan.
First stationed on the battleship USS New Mexico and then on the USS Missouri, Little worked diligently as a radio intercept operator. With skill he copied radio traffic and broke codes to aid the United States with knowledge on locations and information coming from the other side.
Like many others who have seen war firsthand, Little does not speaks very much about his service in the Navy. His silence may be out of necessity more than others. Little’s mission was extremely secretive. The family reports that his name wasn’t even recorded as being on the ship.
After Little’s service, he had the option to go home immediately on a ship or go to another area to attend a ceremony and receive his awards. Little was happy to serve and then come home via the ship, opting to skip the pomp and circumstance.
With no thought of awards and medals, Little came home to Morgan and married Faye Donna July 3, 1946. The couple were both ‘born and raised in Morgan and never left’ according to the couple’s son Jeff. Two children, eight grandkids, and 21 grandchildren later, the pair had a lifetime of memories together. One day when Faye Donna was looking through some of their belongings, something sparked a thought that Keith deserved awards he had never received. She wrote to Senator Orrin Hatch asking if there was anything he could do about the situation. That got the ball rolling to honor one of our county’s and nation’s World War II heroes.
On Friday, Aug. 22, Marine Staff Sgt. James Larsen brought a trove of awards Little had earned in service to our country decades ago. The man who had served bravely 71 years ago was humble in receiving these awards. Little was choked up as Larsen presented and pinned the awards to his suspenders. His family says he has such a respect for anyone in uniform that he always gets a lump in his throat when speaking to them. It was overwhelming to be honored for his admirable service. He tried to insist he didn’t deserve the prestigious awards and that he had only done his job. Everyone else, including the United States Navy, sees that his valiant service all of those years ago was something worthy of honoring and celebrating. His work in decoding the Japanese messages aided the United States in numerous ways.
By the time the presentation was over, Little possessed the Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, Navy Good Conduct Medal, the American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze stars and the WWII Victory Medal.
The medals and the visit surprised Little, who had no idea about any of it. Little’s devoted wife Faye Donna had always had pride in her husband’s military service and was very happy for him to receive these long deserved awards.
Little’s family is very proud of the patriarch’s service to our country. These awards are something in which Keith and his posterity can have pride. “This meant a lot to the whole family,” Melody Little said. His children have strived to instill a love of country and service in their children.
Little’s service didn’t end when returning from war. He has lived a life admired by many and has been a leader in our community. Thank you for your service!