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Richard Francis Kiepfer

Home of record: Brooklyn New York


Silver Star

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Awarded for actions during the U.S.S. Liberty Incident

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Lieutenant (MC) Richard Francis Kiepfer (NSN: 0-710107/2105), United States Naval Reserve, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as Medical Officer in connection with the unprovoked armed attack on U.S.S. LIBERTY (AGTR-5) in the Eastern Mediterranean, on 8 June 1967. During the early afternoon hours, U.S.S. LIBERTY, while engaged in peaceful operations in international waters, was attacked without warning by jet fighter aircraft and three motor torpedo boats. The LIBERTY was subjected to intense incendiary, machine gun, and rocket fire and was placed in extreme jeopardy by a torpedo hit below the waterline on the starboard side in the vicinity of the Research compartment. Severe structural damage and extensive personal casualties were incurred. Lieutenant Kiepfer, serving as Medical Officer, was in the sick bay during the initial phases of the air attack. With complete disregard for his own personal safety, he exposed himself to overwhelmingly accurate rocket and machine gun fire by going to different stations and compartments to administer first aid after sick bay became untenable and evacuated following a rocket hit. He treated men for pain, shock, and took emergency measures to control hemorrhage and later performed a chest operation. After the torpedo hit, he organized personnel for removing the wounded in case of an order to abandon ship. He again went to different General Quarters stations to administer first aid and made trips through some of the damaged areas to the medical storeroom for needed supplies. He organized teams of men to wash wounds and instructed less seriously wounded personnel in preparation of antibiotics for injection. He conducted a major surgical operation, giving the anesthesia (spinal) himself, with a Hospital Corpsman as his assistant and a seaman and fireman as circulating assistants. Although wounded himself, Lieutenant Kiepfer treated patients in excess of thirty hours without relief or rest. His aggressiveness and coolness under fire was exceptional in an hour of awesome peril, thereby saving many lives and easing the pain and suffering of many others. His initiative and courageous actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Action Date: June 8, 1967

Service: Navy

Rank: Lieutenant

Company: Medical Officer

Division: U.S.S. Liberty (AGTR-5)