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The new book The Indestructible Man: The Incredible True Story of the Legendary Sailor the Japanese Couldn’t Kill (Stackpole Books, 2021) by Don Keith with David Rocco, looks at the life and naval career of Dixie Kiefer.
Dixie Kiefer’s reputation for durability began at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he broke an ankle and shattered a kneecap while playing football. After anti-submarine duty in the First World War, he became a pioneer of naval aviation and had an elbow shattered by a plane that buzzed him as a joke.
Kiefer’s first World War II assignment was executive officer of the carrier Yorktown. He earned the Distinguished Service Medal at the Coral Sea and the Navy Cross at Midway, where — as his ship was sinking — he suffered severe burns to his hands and a compound fracture of his foot. After recuperating, Kiefer took command of the Ticonderoga.
In January 1945, Japanese kamikazes struck the carrier, killing and wounding hundreds. Kiefer broke his arm and was struck by more than sixty pieces of shrapnel — but remained on the bridge for twelve hours, earning the Silver Star. Victim of ten wounds in two wars, veteran of some of the U.S. Navy’s most celebrated carriers and battles, a naval aviation pioneer, Dixie Kiefer died in a stateside plane crash two months after the war ended.
Don Keith is a journalist with decades of experience across various media. As a broadcast journalist, he won awards from the Associated Press and UPI for news writing and reporting, received the first Hector Award from Troy University for innovation in broadcast journalism, and was twice named Billboard’s radio personality of the year for his work in Birmingham and Nashville. As a print journalist, his writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, and American Legion. He is author or co-author of thirty books, both fiction and nonfiction, including Hunter Killer, the basis of a 2018 movie starring Gary Oldman and Gerard Butler. He lives outside Birmingham, Alabama.
Photography has been a passion for David Rocco for the past twenty years. A number of his photos have been displayed at regional galleries, historical societies, schools, libraries and street festivals. His work has also been published in a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, trade journals, annual and quarterly reports, promotional packages, calendars and websites. In 2013, three of David Rocco’s images were selected for a photo exhibition at the Arts Westchester Gallery in White Plains, NY showcasing the Damage and Destruction of Hurricane Sandy. Shortly thereafter, The Museum of the City of New York selected a number of these images as well for their Hurricane Sandy Exhibition. These images were also entered into the New York City permanent records. Several of David Rocco’s photos were also selected for Arts Westchester’s 50th Years Through the Decades Anniversary celebration in 2015. In 2019, he was awarded the second annual Lawrence (Larry) Salley Photography Award by Arts Westchester for my body of work documenting the construction and demolition of the Tappan Zee Bridge/ Gov. Cuomo Bridge. Several of his images were selected and installed at kiosk stands on the multi-use pathway rest areas on the new bridge. A number of his photos that were published in 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020 were considered for a Pulitzer Prize in Photography. The 2020 photo that is under consideration for a Pulitzer was nominated for the New York Press Association Photography Award.
Book Purchases made through this Amazon link support the New York Almanack’s mission to report new publications relevant to New York State.