KSU alumnus killed in Iraq

Amanda Garrett


Credit: Beth Rankin

A Kent State alumnus was killed in Iraq June 9, when a roadside bomb hit his vehicle.

Thomas O. Keeling, 23, graduated with a criminal justice degree in 2004. The Strongsville native worked in housekeeping at the Student Center from 2002 to 2004, said James Augustine, assistant director of the Student Center.

Keeling worked the afternoon shift, but he would fill in on night and day shift from time to time, custodial worker Paula Hill said.

“He was one of the nicest young gentleman I have ever met,” Hill said.

“He was happy and pleasant and nice and hardworking. I called him my number-three son because he was as close to me as my own children.”

Keeling wanted to serve his country, but he was anxious about going to Iraq, Hill said.

“We gave him a little party before he left and he had the strangest look in his eyes,” Hill said. “He didn’t want to go, he was scared.”

Linda Markley, an instructor in justice studies, remembers Keeling as a student. She said he was “a wonderful fellow.”

“He believed in what he was doing,” Markley said. “Most people who enlist in the military believe in it. He gave it all.

“I don’t know anyone who would necessarily want to go to Iraq. But you believe in what you’re doing. That to me is a hero.”

Keeling, a lance corporal in the Marine Force Reserves, was killed alongside five other Marines, including two from Ohio, when a bomb hit their vehicle during combat operations near Haqlaniya in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. The other two Marines from Ohio were Cpl. Brad D. Squires, 26, of Middleburg Heights, and Lance Cpl. Devon P. Seymour, 21, of St. Louisville.

The housekeeping staff who worked with Keeling will always remember him fondly, Hill said.

“The only way I can explain his loss is that God must have needed another angel,” she said. “He made us so proud.”

Contact on-campus reporter Amanda Garrett at [email protected].