Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
May 20, 2000 - Issue 10

American Indian Medal of Honor Winners
by Vicki Lockard

We honor our veterans for their bravery and because by seeing death on the battlefield, they truly know the greatness of life. --Winnebago Elder

In the 20th century, five American Indian soldiers have been among those receiving the United State'highest military honor: the Medal of Honor. Given for military heroism "above and beyond the call of duty," these distinguished warriors displayed extraordinary bravery in the face of their enemy. Two of these men sacrificed their lives.

Jack C. Montgomery
A Cherokee from Oklahoma and First Lieutenant with the 45th Infantry Division Thunderbirds during World War II. On 22 February 1944, near Padiglione, Italy, Montgomery's rifle platoon was under fire by three echelons of enemy forces. Jack single-handedly attacked all three positions, taking prisoners in the process. Because of his courage, Montgomery's actions demoralized the enemy and inspired his men to defeat the Axis troops.

Ernest Childers.
A Creek from Oklahoma and a First Lieutenant with the 45th Infantry Division during World War II
Childers received the Medal of Honor for heroic action in 1943. Up against machine gun fire, he and eight men charged the enemy. Although he suffered a broken foot during the assault, Ernest ordered a cover fire, then advanced up the hill, single-handedly killing two snipers, silencing two machine gun nests, and capturing an enemy mortar observer.

Van Barfoot.
A Choctaw from Mississippi and a Second Lieutenant in the Thunderbirds during World War II.
On 23 May 1944, during the breakout from Anzio to Rome, Barfoot knocked out two machine gun nests and captured 17 German soldiers. Later that same day, he repelled a German tank assault, destroyed a Nazi field piece, and while returning to camp, carried two wounded commanders to safety.

Mitchell Red Cloud Jr.
A Winnebago from Wisconsin, and a Corporal in Company E., 19th Infantry Regiment in the Korean War. On 5 November 1950, Red Cloud was on a ridge guarding his company command post when he was surprised by Chinese communist forces. He sounded the alarm, stayed in position, and fired his automatic rifle at point-blank range, giving his company time to consolidate their defenses. Severely wounded by enemy fire, Red Cloud refused assistance and continued firing at the enemy until he, himself, was fatally wounded. His heroic action prevented communists from overrunning his company's position while the wounded were being evacuated.

Charles George.
A Cherokee from North Carolina and Private First Class in the Korean War. George was killed on 30 November 1952, when, during battle, he threw himself on a live grenade, smothering it with his body. By sacrificing his own life, George saved the lives of his troop. For this brave and selfless act, George was posthumously award the Medal of Honor in 1954.

"These are the wings which carry our Warriors home."
Remember our Warriors on Memorial Day, May 29, 2000.

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