Holy Cross Remembers Col. Donald N. McKeon Sr., USMC (Ret.)

Col. Donald N. McKeon Sr., USMC (Ret.), of Berlin, New Jersey, died on July 19, 2016, at 88. As a Marine major in the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program, he taught in the Department of Naval Science from 1963 to 1966. Many of the Holy Cross midshipmen of this period went on to serve their country in Vietnam.

Former Marine captain Edwin R. Matthews ’66 recalls that “Major McKeon understood the importance of being selective of those who were taking the Marine option. He realized the importance of the young lieutenants to the Marine Corps and never let us forget the privilege we were being given to lead Marines. For most of us, he was our first exposure to a Marine officer. He truly was our role model. While none of us were career Marines, we all served honorably and had very successful post–Marine Corps careers. To the man, they will tell you that their Marine Corps experience shaped them. That experience was started with Major McKeon.”

Col. McKeon was a denizen of the old Holy Cross field house, where he was always willing to take on much younger competitors in pickup basketball games. He also helped coach lacrosse and hosted St. Patrick’s Day parties for his midshipmen.

A career infantry officer, Col. McKeon later commanded the First Reconnaissance Battalion in Vietnam, for which he was awarded the Legion of Merit with “V” for valor. He ended his Marine Corps career as head of personnel procurement in 1974, when he received the Meritorious Service medal at least in part for his involvement in initiating the highly successful “Few Good Men” recruiting campaign.

Col. McKeon is survived by his wife of 65 years, Elaine; five children, including Donald N. McKeon Jr. ’74; 13 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.  ■