Staff Sergeant George D. Keathley was born 10 November 1917 in Olney, Texas. In his teens he moved to Lawton, Oklahoma, where he worked on a farm, graduated high school and Cameron State School of Agriculture and Junior College (now Cameron University) with an Associate's Degree. He then enrolled at Texas A&M in the fall of 1933 and took courses in the summers, but would never graduate.
In 1942 Keathley joined the Army and was assigned to the 338th Regiment of the 85th Infantry Division. He was promoted to Staff Sergeant just before the unit went into combat. On 30 May 1944 he became a platoon leader and exposed himself to enemy fire numerous times while reorganizing the platoon. For this he was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor Device.
On 14 September 1944, at Mount Altuzzo in Northern Italy, his company had advanced to within 50 yards of its objective but was held by German sniper, automatic, small arms and mortar fire. All officers and noncommissioned officers of two platoons ahead of Keathley's had become casualties, and he moved up to assume command. As his soldiers ran dangerously low on ammunition, he crawled under deadly small arms and mortar fire from one casualty to another, collecting ammunition and administering first aid. He then redistributed the ammunition, encouraging his men. Each time the enemy tried to advance into their position they were driven back. When an enemy hand grenade exploded near him inflicting a mortal wound, Keathley rose to his feet, firing his rifle at the enemy while shouting orders to his men. Inspired, his men fought with determination until the enemy withdrew. Keathley died soon after, and for his heroic actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
A plaque in Keathley's honor is displayed at Texas A&M's Corps of Cadets Hall of Honor. Keathley is also honored at Cameron University, where its Department of Military Science is named after him.