Keerans, Charles Leslie Jr., BG

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Last Rank
Brigadier General
Last Service Branch
Last Primary MOS
00GD-Commanding General (Deputy)
Last MOS Group
General Officer
Primary Unit
1943-Present, POW/MIA
Service Years
1919 - 1943


Brigadier General

One Overseas Service Bar

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
North Carolina
North Carolina
Year of Birth
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Casualty Info
Home Town
Charlotte, NC
Last Address
Charlotte, NC

Casualty Date
Jul 11, 1943
Non Hostile- Died Other Causes
World War II
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Section 30, Site 901B

 Official Badges 

Infantry Shoulder Cord French Fourragere

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
World War II Fallen
  2013, World War II Fallen [Verified]

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

Airborne Glider Badge
Parachutist (Basic)

 Unit Assignments
HQ, US Army Cadet Command/ROTC Virginia Military Institute (Cadre)Command and General Staff College (CGSC) Resident Course1st Battalion, 24th Infantry RegimentInfantry Center and School (Staff) Fort Benning, GA
Airborne Command, Europe101st Airborne Division 82nd Airborne DivisionPOW/MIA
  1919-1920, HQ, US Army Cadet Command/ROTC Virginia Military Institute (Cadre)
  1938-1938, Command and General Staff College (CGSC) Resident Course
  1938-1941, 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment/HHC
  1938-1941, Infantry Center and School (Staff) Fort Benning, GA
  1941-1942, Airborne Command, Europe
  1942-1943, 101st Airborne Division
  1943-1943, 82nd Airborne Division/HHC
  1943-Present, POW/MIA
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1943 WWII - American Theater
  1943-1943 WWII - Asiatic-Pacific Theater
  1943-1943 WWII - European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Sicily Campaign (1943)
  1943-1943 Sicily Campaign (1943)/Operation Husky
 Colleges Attended 
North Carolina State UniversityUnited States Military AcademyVirginia Military Institute
  1915-1917, North Carolina State University
  1917-1919, United States Military Academy
  1919-1920, Virginia Military Institute
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Assistant commander of the 101st Airborne Division during World War II, Keerans was believed to be killed in action on July 11, 1943, after his C-47 plane was hit by friendly fire and crashed into the Gulf of Gela, on Italy's west coast. His body was never found.

Education: North Carolina College of Engineering and Virginia Military Institute (VMI) (Lexington, VA) (...-1920); US Military Academy (West Point) (class of 1919; # 6513); Command and General Staff School (Fort Leavenworth) (1938)
1920     commissioned in the Infantry
1938 - 1941 Instructor, 24th Infantry Regiment (Fort Benning, GA)
1941 - 1942 Supply Officer for Headquarters Company, Airborne Command (Fort Bragg)
1942 - 1943 Chief of Staff, 101st Airborne Division (Sicily)
APR 15 1943 - JUL 11 1943 Assistant Division Commander, 82nd Airborne Division (killed on an air mission over Sicily)
2nd Lt. ? [O012504]
1st Lt. JUL 21 1924
Capt. AUG 01 1935
Brig.Gen. JUL 02 1943
Born at Charlotte, North Carolina. Graduated From The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, With The Class of 1919, Missing in action near Sicily, Italy, 11 July 1943, His death was one of the oddest to occur during the war. In 1943 the 82nd had prepared to make a night combat jump into the area around the Gulf of Gela, on the western coast of Italy. The effort was plagued with problems, including several American transport planes being shot down by friendly fire. D-Day for operation Husky was 10 July 1943 and it all took place in southern Sicily. During the night of 9-10 July 226 C-47s (military version of the DC-3) took off with paratroopers of the 505th Regimental Combat Team (505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, B Company 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion and the 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion), this Combat Team was reinforced by the 3rd Battalion 504th Paracehute Infantry, more than 3,400 paratroopers in total. The paratroopers were dropped behind the beaches. Due to several reasons, the paratroopers landed over entire Southern Sicily. 

When the 144 planes flew to Sicily, they had to fly over the invasion fleet off the coast of Sicily. They were under constant attack from the German Luftwaffe. The gunners were trigger happy and fired on the planes. Then the Troop Carriers came over. Some gunner opened up, and more and more gunners joined him. A total of twenty-three planes transportplanes were shot down. Young American lives were lost due to friendly fire from American warships, American merchant ships, and infantry units on the coast of Sicily.

Keerans plane was one of those hit by friendly fire, but the pilot was able to crash land the plane in the water, 400 yards off shore. Keerans survived the crash and the next morning chatted with a Sergeant from another unit and asked the Sergeant to accompany him inland. The Sergeant said that he wanted to return to his outfit and left. Keerans went inland by himself and was never seen again. In the early hours of 10 July, the U.S. infantry stormed the beaches. In the southeastern part of the island British troops landed. For several years the army assumed he had been killed during the ditching of the aircraft, but the sergeants story provided a different interpretation and the general was simply listed as killed in action, although his body was never found. 

Brigadier General, U.S. Army
Service # O-012504
Headquarters, 82nd Airborne Division
Entered the Service from: North Carolina
Died: 11-Jul-43
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Sicily-Rome American Cemetery
Nettuno, Italy
Awards: Purple Heart

DATE OF BIRTH: 06/06/1906
DATE OF DEATH: 04/11/1962


Keerans Range - Germany
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