A native of Fremont, California, Commander Keys graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in English. He earned his Naval Aviator wings at NAS Whiting Field, Milton, Florida in October 1997 and completed initial training as an H-60F/H pilot at HELANTISUBRON TEN in 1998.
Commander Keys reported to the “Tridents” of HELANTISUBRON THREE in August 1998 for his initial sea tour. He participated in Strike Group workups and in April 1999 deployed with CARAIRWING EIGHT (CVW-8) on board USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) in support of Operation Noble Anvil (Kosovo 1999) and Operation Southern Watch. Commander Keys again participated in workups, deployed aboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) in March 2001 and took part in the UK’s Joint Maritime Course (JMC). On September 11, 2001, the ENTERPRISE Strike Group reversed its intended course and commenced Operation Enduring Freedom against Taliban forces. He held such jobs as Schedules, Avionics/Armament Division, NATOPS and Quality Assurance Officer.
In January 2002, Commander Keys became an Instructor Pilot at HELANTISUBRON TEN, the Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS), for his first shore duty. He flew in excess of 700 hours completing more than 170 instructional events directly contributing to the squadron winning the 2003 Theodore G. Ellyson aviator production excellence award. While at HS-10, he qualified as a Seahawk Weapons and Tactics Instructor (SWTI) at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, Fallon, Nevada. He worked as the Schedules, Quality Assurance and Standardization Officer.
His next assignment was to the staff of Commander, Strike Force Training Atlantic (CSFTLANT). In 2004, Commander Keys took over as the Assistant Air Operations Officer responsible for the coordination of Air Operations during all East Coast Composite Training Unit Exercises (COMPTUEX). He was directly responsible for planning and evaluating over 24 Combat Search and Rescue Exercises during four COMPTUEXs.
Commander Keys screened for Department Head and reported to the “Nightdippers” of HELANTISUBRON FIVE. He joined CARAIRWING SEVEN (CVW-7) during deployment while the EISENHOWER Strike Group was conducting Operation Enduring Freedom from December 2006 to May 2007. After completing the Fleet Response Training Plan, Commander Keys deployed again with the EISENHOWER Strike Group in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from February 2009 to June 2009. He served as the Administration, Standardization-Training-Operational Risk Management, Maintenance and Operation Department Heads. Commander Keys also received The Navy & Marine Association 2008 Leadership Award for Commander, Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic Detachment Jacksonville.
Commander Keys reported to Air War College for Senior Service School in July 2009, earning a Masters of Strategic Studies and Joint Professional Military Education Phase II.
Following Air War College, Commander Keys reported to the “Dragonslayers” of HELANTISUBRON ELEVEN (HS-11) as Executive Officer in April 2011 while on deployment to the 5th Fleet AOR onboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65)and CARAIRWING ONE (CVW-1). Upon return from deployment, the squadron began work-ups in preparation for a follow-on deployment. The squadron again embarked aboard USS ENTERPRISE in March 2012 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He assumed command of HS-11 in July 2012. The squadron was awarded the COMNAVAIRLANT Battle ‘E’ in 2013. Commander Keys detached in October 2013 and reported to US STRATEGIC COMMAND Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction (SCC-WMD).
At SCC-WMD (co-located with Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Fort Belvoir, Virginia), Commander Keys worked as Deputy Chief, Requirements Integration Department of the Intelligence, Plans, and Resource Integration Directorate (J2/5/8R). During this tour, he attained the Joint Qualified Officer (JQO) designation, Space Acquisition AQD, and selected for HSC second command-in-grade.
In March 2016, Commander Keys assumed command of the “Fleet Angels” of HELSEACOMBATRON TWO (HSC-2), the east coast MH-60S Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS).
Commander Keys’ awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2 gold stars), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (1 gold star), Joint Meritorious Unit Award (one oak leaf cluster), Navy Unit Commendation (1 bronze star), Meritorious Unit Commendation (3 bronze stars), Battle ‘E’ (2 ‘E’ devices), National Defense Medal (1 bronze star), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (1 bronze star), Kosovo Campaign Medal (1 bronze star), Afghanistan Campaign Medal, GWOT Service Medal, GWOT Expeditionary Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (1 silver star), NATO Medal, Expert Rifle and Pistol Medals, and Basic Parachutist Wings. He has also accumulated over 3,400 flight hours in the H-60F/H and has held every qualification/designation in the platform.