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In Memoriam: Chief Petty Officer John Keith Bemis

Also that summer, my sister Martha and her husband Dan were visiting Monterey for a medical convention.  Keith and I drove up to meet them for a few days.  We went sightseeing and my god-daughter Vickie, then 6 years old, was tired so Keith carried her all over Monterey: up and down Cannery Row, onto the Pier, over to the Aquarium and back to the hotel.  And he never complained.

A few months before Keith’s visit, I had met an actress who starred with Arnold in Conan and one day she called for assistance in moving.  Keith and I drove out to the San Fernando Valley, which in July is regularly over 100 degrees.  It was 103 that day and Keith worked all day for nothing more than an In-N-Out Burger and a Coke, but he never complained.  That’s where I think he developed his affection for In-N-Out burgers; he would get the double cheeseburger “Animal Style,” a tasty concoction of beef, fries, cheese, onions, peppers and some funky sauce.

Cassandra gave Keith an autographed picture of her and Arnold from Conan and I later got the Governor to sign it for Keith.  When I told Arnold that Keith was serving in the Navy, Arnold replied that it was what else? “Fantastick!”

In San Diego, Keith lived in a housing complex full of military families. I heard numerous wives tell me that when their husbands were away on duty, Keith was the guy to see whenever they needed something done whether it was a spider in the kitchen, a mouse in the house, a cat in the tree, a clogged drain or a car that wouldn’t start. Keith would solve their problems; refuse any offer of payment, instead saying “just make me some enchiladas.” His neighbor Eileen joked that he should wear a shirt that said: “will work for food.”

These stories illustrate the true character of this young man… kind, hard-working and uncomplaining.

Folks in the complex like Roberto, Eileen, Diana and Vidi all gave him their highest compliment, calling Keith an “Honorary Mexican” and that is what he was:  He loved Mexican tequila, Mexican beer, Mexican chocolate, Mexican food and Mexican women, especially Likshio.

The Navy’s slogan is “A Global Force for Good” and Keith always tried to live up to that – whether at sea or on the shore.

So God Bless you Keith, we’ll always love you and we’ll never forget you.


Patrick Reddy delivered this eulogy for Chief Petty Officer (US Navy) John Keith Bemis on August 21, 2012.