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Navy Chaplain From California Dies After Surgery

Deputy Chaplain (Lt. Cmdr.) John Keith
Deputy Chaplain (Lt. Cmdr.) John Keith

A Navy chaplain from Irvine, Calif. died in Italy from complications after surgery. Deputy Chaplain (Lt. Cmdr.) John Keith, 49, passed away Saturday night in an Italian hospital in Naples after being transferred from a nearby Naval hospital.

Keith served at Naval Support Activity Naples. Base Chaplain (Cmdr.) Manuel Biadog told Stars and Stripes:

“He is very well-known and well-loved by the community, and he’s leaving a huge hole here for us.<br><br>“The folks are just completely overwhelmed, shocked. At yesterday’s service there was no dry eye there.”
According to Stars and Stripes, Keith began serving as a chaplain in Naples in August 2012. Before then, he worked as a chaplain with the Marine Corps. He rendered aid in 2005 to tsunami victims in Sri Lanki. Keith deployed to Kuwait in 2006 during the Iraq War.

Keith's wife wrote on the couple's Facebook page:

"My heart has been plucked from me. I can not find the words to express how much I miss him. It's more than I can bare.<br><br>"His love for the Lord is evident by the overwhelming love and support that we are receiving. I want to thank all of you for the outpouring of love, prayers, encouragement, flowers, meals and the loving support that you have shown. They are helping carry us through."
In addition to his wife, Keith leaves behind two sons.