American Indian heritage and the U.S. military

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jessica Blace
  • Joint Base Lewis-McChord Equal Opportunity
For more than 200 years, American Indians have participated courageously in the U.S. military. As early as the 18th century, American Indians have been recognized by our great American military leaders. General George Washington in 1778 stated he thought the American Indians would be great scouts and light troops. Since then, American Indians have been involved in every war since the War of 1812. During the Vietnam War, more than 90 percent of American Indians were volunteers.

American Indians have the highest record of service per capita in comparison to other ethnic groups. It is deeply rooted in their culture to serve their country and they have a value in their proud warrior tradition. At the end of the 20th century there were almost 190,000 American Indian Veterans.

During the Indian Wars, the following individuals received the Medal of Honor for Gallant Conduct during campaigns and engagements with Apaches: Sergeant William Alchesay, Jim, Rowdy, Blanquet, Chiquito, Kelsay, Kosoha, Nannasaddie, Nantaje, Corporal Elsatsoosu, and Private Machol. Trumpeter Isaac Payne, Private Pompey Factor, and Sergeant John War received the Medal of Honor for participating in a charge against 25 hostiles.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, the following received the Medal of Honor during World War II: Commander Ernest Edwin Evans, US Navy; First Lieutenant Jack C. Montgomery, US Army; Second Lieutenant Ernest Childers, US Army; and Second Lieutenant Van T. Barfoot, US Army.

Throughout the Korean War, Capt. Raymond Harvey, US Army; Cpl. Mitchell Red Cloud, Jr., US Army; and Pfc. Charles George, US Army, received the Medal of Honor. Their citations declared that these brave men distinguished themselves by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty.

Veterans Day and Thanksgiving are two popular holidays celebrated every year in the month of November. During this month of November, let's take time to reminisce and be grateful to our American Indian service members who have contributed to the success of the United States of America and its military.