The U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) hosted a 1935 academy graduate on the yard, Jan. 30, for a tour and birthday celebration.
Rear Adm. (ret) Edgar “Ed” Keats toured the rotunda at Bancroft Hall and then Memorial Hall, before arriving at King Hall where the entire brigade of midshipmen sang happy birthday to him.
“This is a wonderful day for me,” said Keats. ”It is my 100th birthday, but I don’t feel any different today than I did yesterday. It just comes up on you gradually.”
Keats was born on January 30, 1915 in Chicago. He was appointed to the USNA from Illinois in 1931 and graduated in 1935. While at USNA, he participated on the gymnastics team for all four years. During his 1/C year, the gymnastics team beat Newark, Princeton, MIT and Dartmouth, but lost to Temple. Keats was listed as a mustering petty officer within the brigade during his 1/C year.
According to Courtney Jolley, assistance director of communication for the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association, as a midshipman, he was the class president of the class of 1935. As an alumnus, he also became class president of the class of 1934.
“He also took the responsibility of the class president for the class of 1934 after the original class president took ill. They were both close friends, said Jolley. “He has worked with the Alumni as an advocate for his classmates and fellow alumni for many years.”
After his service aboard ships, Keats received his wings as a Naval Aviator at Pensacola in 1938. During World War II, he was ordered to command Bombing Squadron 16 but after Pearl Harbor, he was sent as chair staff officer to Island and Air Commander, Tarawa. He served as Force Air Officer to the Commander Amphibious Force, Pacific for the invasions of Marinas, Iwo Jima and Okinawa in 1944 and 1945.
“I was part of the group that wrote the aviation portion of the amphibious course plans for the capture,” said Keats. “You just don’t go out there with a lot of people. It takes a lot of planning, and everyone doing their part. I don’t claim that I was a hero. I flatter myself that I helped contribute some little bit to our victory.”
In the late 1940’s, Keats received his M.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 1953-1955, he served as Director of the Armament Division at NATC Patuxent. From 1959-1970, he was Program Manager of the Electronics Division at Westinghouse. From 1970-1973, he served as Vice President of Urban Systems Development Corporation, and served as President of Standard Dredging Corporation from 1973-1980.
“I am proud of my classmates, all 432 of them, because none of us ran away from the enemy,” said Keats. “Not one failed at being in command or doing his job. They all served properly, honorably and in the spirit of the Naval Academy. I think the reason that we did well was because of the culture of the Naval Academy that we embodied. Thanks to the officers and fellow midshipmen we learned from that we were with while at the Naval Academy.”