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About Phil Keith
Phil has a degree in History from Harvard and has done Masters work at the Naval War College and Long Island University. After graduation from Harvard Phil went directly into the Navy and became a Naval Aviator. During three combat deployments to Vietnam Phil served with distinction and was awarded, among other decorations, the Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Air Medal, and the Navy Commendation Medal. After his wartime service he rose to the rank of Commander in the Naval Reserve and was also designated as a licensed Captain by the US Coast Guard. As a business executive he worked for two Fortune 500 firms holding several senior positions in sales and marketing. He was also a COO and CEO for four start-up technology firms specializing in the sales and marketing of high-end software products.
In 1999 Phil was selected for the Executive in Residence Program at Long Island University's Business Division and for the next six years taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in business at LIU, Southampton. In 2007 Phil accepted an assignment to teach business topics and writing classes at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence. RI.
Phil has authored two major non-fiction works under contract to St. Martin's Press. The first is a Vietnam book entitled "Blackhorse Riders," and is the story of Alpha Troop, 1st Squadron, the 11th Armored Cavalry and a battle and rescue operation that took place in March, 1970. It is one of the most exciting stories of heroism to come from that war. "Blackhorse Riders" was the winner of the USA Book News Military History book-of-the-year for 2012; a finalist for the 2013 Colby Award and won the 2013 Silver Medal for History from the Military Writer's Society of America. The second book is entitled: "Fire Base Illingworth" and re-tells the harrowing story of a ferocious battle in the middle of the jungle in Vietnam in April, 1970, where a forward-operating Army fire base is nearly over-run and destroyed by a North Vietnamese Army regiment bent on killing or capturing every soldier. "Fire Base Illingworth" was released by St. Martin's Press on October 29, 2013.
In October, 2011, Phil completed a montage of the Harvard Alumni who have been awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor. The book, published by Create Space from Amazon, is entitled "Crimson Valor." Eighteen Harvard alumni have earned the Medal of Honor (more than any other college or university other than West Point and the Naval Academy). "Crimson Valor" was presented to all living Medal of Honor awardees at their 2012 gathering in Boston.
Phil has completed an original e-work entitled "Missed Signals," which chronicles the events that led up to the bombing of the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen, in October, 2000. "Missed Signals" was published in July, 2013, under the Kindle Singles program and is also available in print form from Create Space.
"Stay the Rising Sun," is a chronicle of the Battle of the Coral Sea in May, 1942, and is also the story of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, CV-2, and how this ship and its remarkable crew positively affected the outcome of the war in the Pacific in WW II. "Stay the Rising Sun" was published by Quarto Press May 1, 2015, and was nominated for the 2016 Admiral Morison Award for Naval Literature and won a Bronze Medal for History Writing from the Military Writer's Society of America.
Launched in summer 2017 was a mystery-thriller entitled "Settling Up." Phil penned a fast-faced story about a Vietnam veteran with a severe case of PTSD, who is also afflicted by Agent Orange. Before the disease takes its ultimate toll, he has decided to seek vengeance on a number of others who participated in the Vietnam War whose acts of treachery, cowardice, or greed harmed other veterans of Vietnam and remain unpunished. People with checkered pasts disappear--then they start turning up dead, mostly in very gruesome ways related to their alleged sins. Can anyone stop him? Does anyone really want to? A rookie FBI agent with a razor sharp mind and incredible good looks crosses his path. What will she do?
Phil's next book is a biography of the amazing Eugene Bullard, the son of a Georgia slave who became the first African-American fighter pilot in history. Bullard flew for France in WW I, won the Croix de Guerre, opened a jazz club in Paris after the war, "hung out" with Picasso, Hemingway, Langston Hughes, Louie Armstrong (and many more). He was famous for his flight exploits long before the Tuskegee Airman came on the scene. Bullard also spied for the French as the Nazis invaded Paris, narrowly escaping death again in WW II. The book is titled "All Blood Runs Red," and was published on November 5, 2019, by Hanover Square Press (Harper Collins, Inc.).
In addition, Phil is a columnist for the Press Newspaper Group and won 2013 and 2015 New York Press Association First Place and Second Place awards for "Best Opinion Column." He also writes for magazines, and has published two other fictional novels, "Animus" and its sequel, "Belladonna."
Phil teaches (with best-selling author Tom Clavin) a writing and publishing seminar for both novice and aspiring authors.
Phil is the past President of the Long Island Authors Group; a member of the Town of Southampton Planning Board; belongs to VFW Post 5350, American Legion Post 924, the DAV, Vietnam Veterans of America; and, lives in Southampton, New York, with his partner Laura and son Pierce.
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Titles By Phil Keith
On June 19, 1864, just off the coast of France, one of the most dramatic naval battles in history took place. On a clear day with windswept skies, the dreaded Confederate raider Alabama faced the Union warship Kearsarge in an all-or-nothing fight to the finish, the outcome of which would effectively end the threat of the Confederacy on the high seas.
Authors Phil Keith and Tom Clavin introduce some of the crucial but historically overlooked players, including John Winslow, captain of the USS Kearsarge, as well as Raphael Semmes, captain of the CSS Alabama. Readers will sail aboard the Kearsarge as Winslow embarks for Europe with a set of simple orders from the secretary of the navy: "Travel to the uttermost ends of the earth, if necessary, to find and destroy the Alabama."
Winslow pursued Semmes in a spectacular fourteen-month chase over international waters, culminating in what would become the climactic sea battle of the Civil War.
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
“A whale of a tale, told clearly and quickly. I read the entire book in almost one sitting.”—Thomas E. Ricks, New York Times Book Review
The incredible story of the first African American military pilot, who went on to become a Paris nightclub impresario, a spy in the French Resistance and an American civil rights pioneer
Eugene Bullard lived one of the most fascinating lives of the twentieth century. The son of a former slave and an indigenous Creek woman, Bullard fled home at the age of eleven to escape the racial hostility of his Georgia community. When his journey led him to Europe, he garnered worldwide fame as a boxer, and later as the first African American fighter pilot in history.
After the war, Bullard returned to Paris a celebrated hero. But little did he know that the dramatic, globe-spanning arc of his life had just begun.
All Blood Runs Red is the inspiring untold story of an American hero, a thought-provoking chronicle of the twentieth century and a portrait of a man who came from nothing and by his own courage, determination, gumption, intelligence and luck forged a legendary life.
In the early morning hours of April 1, 1970, more than four hundred North Vietnamese soldiers charged out into the open and tried to over-run FSB Illingworth. The battle went on, mostly in the dark, for hours. Exposed ammunition canisters were hit and blew up, causing a thunderous explosion inside the FSB that left dust so thick it jammed the hand-held weapons of the GIs. Much of the combat was hand-to-hand. In all, twenty-four Americans lost their lives and another fifty-four were wounded. Nearly one hundred enemy bodies were recovered. It was one of the most vicious small unit firefights in the history of U.S. forces in Vietnam.
As in his acclaimed book Blackhorse Riders, a finalist for the prestigious Colby Award, Phil Keith uncovers a harrowing true story of bravery and sacrifice by the men who fought valiantly to hold FSB Illingworth—a tale never-before-told and one that will not be soon forgotten.
Winner of the 2013 Silver Medal in History from the Military Writer's Society of America
Finalist, 2013 Colby Award
Winner of the 2012 USA Best Book Award for Military History
Philip Keith's Blackhorse Riders is the incredible true story of a brave military unit in Vietnam that risked everything to rescue an outnumbered troop under heavy fire—and the thirty-nine-year odyssey to recognize their bravery.
Deep in the jungles of Vietnam, Alpha Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry, the famed Blackhorse Regiment, was a specialized cavalry outfit equipped with tanks and armored assault vehicles. On the morning of March 26, 1970, they began hearing radio calls from an infantry unit four kilometers away that had stumbled into a hidden North Vietnamese Army stronghold. Outnumbered at least six to one, the ninety-man American company was quickly surrounded, pinned down, and fighting for its existence. Helicopters could not penetrate the dense jungle, and artillery and air support could not be targeted effectively. The company was fated to be worn down and eventually all killed or captured.
Overhearing the calls for help on his radio, Captain John Poindexter, Alpha Troop's twenty-five-year-old commander, realized that his outfit was the only hope for the trapped company. It just might be possible that they could "bust" enough jungle by nightfall to reach them. Not making the attempt was deemed unacceptable, so he ordered his men to "saddle up." With the courage and determination that makes legends out of ordinary men, they effected a daring rescue and fought a pitched battle—at considerable cost. Many brave deeds were done that day and Captain Poindexter tried to make sure his men were recognized for their actions.
Thirty years later Poindexter was made aware that his award recommendations and even the records of the battle had somehow gone missing. Thus began the second phase of this remarkable story: a "battle" to ensure that his brave men's accomplishments would never be forgotten again.
The full circle was completed when President Obama stepped to the podium on October 20, 2009, to award the Alpha Troop with the Presidential Unit Citation: the highest combat award that can be given to a military unit.
In May 1942, the United States' first first naval victory against the Japanese in the Coral Sea was marred by the loss of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington. Another carrier was nearly ready for launch when the news arrived, so the navy changed her name to Lexington, confusing the Japanese.
The men of the original "Lady Lex" loved their ship and fought hard to protect her. They were also seeking revenge for the losses sustained at Pearl Harbor. Crippling attacks by the Japanese left her on fire and dead in the water. A remarkable 90 percent of the crew made it off the burning decks before Lexington had to be abandoned. In all the annals of the Second World War, there is hardly a battle story more compelling.
Lexington's legacy did not end with her demise, however. Although the battle was deemed a tactical success for the Japanese, it turned out to be a strategic loss: For the first time in the war, a Japanese invasion force was forced to retreat.
The lessons learned by losing the Lexington at Coral Sea impacted tactics, air wing operations, damage control, and ship construction. Altogether, they forged a critical, positive turning point in the war. The ship that ushered in and gave birth to a new era in naval warfare might be gone, but fate decreed that her important legacy would live on.
Recipients have come from all walks of life, every corner of America, and every uniformed service. Many; indeed most, of the awards, since 1941, have been made posthumously. The award may only be given to an individual once (although, in an earlier era, there were nineteen double awards); one women has been awarded the Medal (Dr. Mary Walker, Civil War); and, eighty-five awardees, plus or minus, are still living. Originally a “private soldiers” award, and still dominated by acts of courage from the ranks, the Medal has been given to a number of commissioned officers as well. As might be expected, among college and university graduates who have been tapped, the service academies top the list: There are 83 alumni from West Point, 73 from Annapolis and one from the Air Force Academy.
Among all other American institutions of higher learning the university with the greatest number of Medal of Honor recipients is Harvard, seventeen alumni in all. The Harvard men who have been honored served in virtually every conflict, from the Civil War to Vietnam. Who are these remarkable men? Crimson Valor, a book by Philip A. Keith, Harvard '68, Navy officer and and Vietnam Veteran, is available now to tell their tales.
Most of the plotline takes place in the present but a substantial part of the denouement harkens back to the historically accurate sinking of a British Man-o-War off the coast of Montauk, New York, during the Revolutionary War year of 1781. A previously unknown treasure is stolen from the wreck by three defecting sailors who promptly disappear into the mists of Long Island history. But part of the purloined booty turns up again, in modern times, in a most curious way.
Most of the main characters are members of the fictional Harris family and their various employees and retainers. The Harris’ are fabulously rich, heirs to a corporate empire and totally dysfunctional. A long history of jealousies, infidelities, inter-family squabbles , and embezzlements now turns into a deadly round of eliminations conducted mostly by a mysterious woman who styles herself the “Belladonna”—“the deadly nightshade.” Who is she? What does she want? Why is she scything down the family and its employees with such deliberation?
Trying to stem the flow of blood and stop the rising body count is an old family friend ,Admiral James Griffin, who is now the head of one of the most secretive Federal anti-terror directorates at the Pentagon. Is there a connection? Sadly, yes. Also coming to the rescue is Adm. Griffin’s brilliant wife, Gracie Connors, who applies her considerable forensic skills to the problem and eventually cracks the case. But not before more bodies fall and Gracie herself nearly becomes the intended last victim of the clearly unbalanced “Belladonna.”
“Belladonna” is a sequel, in terms of several characters, to the author’s award-winning first novel, “Animus.”