“Captain Dixie” Kiefer was a US naval commander during World War II who saw so much action that his men joked that the ship’s compass needle always pointed to him, on account of all the shrapnel in his body. He acquired much of that metal during a kamikaze attack on the USS Ticonderoga, when he stayed on the bridge overseeing defenses and damage control for 12 hours, despite having sustained 60+ shrapnel wounds and a badly broken arm. He was the last man off the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown when she sank in the Battle of Midway, having previously commanded her in the Battle of the Coral Sea.
While awarding him a medal, the Secretary of the Navy dubbed Kiefer “the Indestructible Man.” But shortly after the war ended, Kiefer perished, along with five other Navy men, in an airplane crash on Mount Beacon. Yorktown Heights resident David Rocco has been working with a group called the Mount Beacon Eight to attain recognition for those who died alongside Kiefer in the 1945 plane crash, as well as two other Navy aviators killed on the mountain ten years earlier. With Don Keith, he recently coauthored a biography titled The Indestructible Man: The True Story of a World War II Hero, Captain Dixie.
Rocco will give a talk about Kiefer’s life on Thursday, January 11 at 7 p.m. as the Beacon Sloop Club’s Winter Lecture. Admission is free. The Beacon Sloop Clubhouse is located at 2 Red Flynn Drive on the Beacon waterfront, across from the Metro North station. To find out more, call (845) 463-4660 or visit www.beaconsloopclub.org.