Chaplain Colonel (Ret.) Herman Keizer Jr.

Herman Keizer

Title: Army Chaplain
Company: United States Army
Location: Caledonia, Michigan, United States

Herman Keizer Jr., Retired Chaplain Colonel with the U.S. Army, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Military for dedication, achievements, and leadership in church administration.

Acknowledging a call to the ministry from a young age, Mr. Keizer was ordained in 1968 and commissioned as a chaplain in the U.S. Army, where he served for 34 years, including 15 years in the Pentagon and two years at the U.S. Department of State. Initially, he attended Calvin College, now Calvin University, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in pursuit of a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and Greek until his conscription. Mr. Keizer spent two years in active duty from 1962 to 1964 at Fort Belvoir, Georgia, completing his degree the following year.

After earning a Bachelor of Divinity in theology from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1968, Mr. Keizer was commissioned as a chaplain in the U.S. Army and was appointed as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church. He served as a chaplain for the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii and as a NATO command chaplain based in Stuttgart, Germany, where he planned yearly conferences for other NATO country military chaplains. After his posting in Vietnam, his war experiences included being injured during a rocket attack on a base in Cambodia and in a 159-foot fall from a helicopter.

Upon returning to the United States, Mr. Keizer continued his education with a Master of Arts in education from the Teachers College at Columbia University in 1978 and a Master of Theology from New York Theological Seminary in 1979. During this time, he remained with the Army and advanced in rank to colonel upon his retirement in 1998, after which he was recalled twice to work at the Pentagon and later to serve as an adviser to the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom for the U.S. Department of State until 2002.

Mr. Keizer was honored with numerous military accolades that included a Defense Superior Service Medal, four Legions of Merit, six Bronze Stars including one with a V for valor in combat, the Purple Heart and the Soldiers’ Medal. He counseled for the U.S. Department of State following the attack on the Pentagon on 9/11 for which he received a telephone call of commendation from General Colin Powell, after which he organized a round table meeting with the Muslim community in the Washington area to try to ease tensions.

In 2012, Mr. Keizer accepted the David E. White Award from the Military Chaplains Association, which recognizes lifetime commitment as a chaplain, vision for joint service and inter-agency collaboration, and overall ministry professionalism. The same year, he co-founded the Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinity School with Texas Christian University, dedicated to educating and researching moral injury and recovery for military veterans. In addition, Mr. Keizer was also very active in prison ministry, setting up counseling and establishing a church within Angola Prison in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Iona Prison in Michigan. He was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Calvin College and Calvin Seminary in 2003. He received the Soul Repair Award from Volunteers of America in 2015, and the Association of Professional Chaplain’s Distinguished Service Award in 2010. He served as national chaplain for the Military Order of the Purple Heart and as president of the Army Navy Club in Grand Rapids.

Mr. Keizer passed away on December 22, 2017. According to his wife, Ms. Ardis Keizer, what distinguished him from others is that he admired the people around him and appreciated the diversity of the people he administered to during his years in the military.

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