12 Native Americans will be inducted into the Native American Hall of Fame - This is the story of one. A soldiers soldiers Pascal Poolow

Via:  kavika  •  last year  •  31 comments

12 Native Americans will be inducted into the Native American Hall of Fame - This is the story of one. A soldiers soldiers Pascal Poolow

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

The Epic Story Of Pascal Cleatus Poolow, Sr. Spans 20 Years Of Battle, And 42 Medals


All those who go to war and who face the enemy on the field of battle know the challenges of courage under fire. Most prove themselves to be up to the task and are able to accomplish things that their peers back home cannot even imagine. But there are some men who are brave beyond the speaking of it. Their heroism makes for the stuff of legend.

One of these men was Pascal Cleatus Poolow, Sr. This is his story.

Pascal Poolaw, Sr. was born into the warrior tradition of The People of the Kiowa nation in Anadarko, Okla. Most Americans may not know this, but Native Americans from all of the tribes have served in the United States armed forces in the past, and continue to do so now, at a higher rate per capita than any other group in America.

Poolaw would follow in that tradition and prove himself to be an example of a true warrior over the course of an unbelievable career in the U.S. Army, a career that would see him fighting in combat in three of the wars of the 20th century: WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. During that time, he would become the most highly decorated Native American soldier in our history, receiving some 42 medals and citations. He is a true American hero, indeed.


Source:   American Indians Veterans Memorial
1st Sgt. Pascal Cleatus Poolow, Sr.

Poolaw joined the Army in 1942. His dad, Ralph Poolaw, and two of his uncles, were also serving at that time. During WWII, because of his heroic actions in combat, he would be awarded a Silver Star and a Purple Heart in battles against German forces in Europe. During the Korean War, Pascal was wounded again, received his second Purple Heart, and this time was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross for his gallantry on the field of battle.

After Korea, he retired from the Army in 1962. He would join up again in the early stages of the Vietnam War. He did so in a father’s effort of love trying to keep his four sons who were all in the military by that time, from having to go to Vietnam. His efforts to keep his sons out of combat in Vietnam were not successful, though.

Poolaw volunteered to go to Vietnam in order to keep his son, Lindy, out of it. He was depending upon the military regulations at the time, which prohibited two members of the same family from serving in combat situations at the same time without their consent. Lindy would end up receiving orders anyway and was off to war a day before Poolaw, Sr. arrived at his port of departure for Vietnam in California.

The Poolaw family had already seen one of their sons come home from Vietnam seriously wounded. That was Spc 4 Pascal Cleatus Poolow, Jr. He had lost a leg to a land mine during his tour in Vietnam.


Source:   Virtual Wall
1st Sgt. Pascal Cleatus Poolow, Sr.

Poolaw Sr. had been in Vietnam for four months when he was again on another combat operation. He had written a letter home just before going out on this operation saying that he “rated his job there as being more important than his life.” While on this operation, his unit came under a sudden and heavy attack by a much larger force of Viet Cong.

It was during this intense battle that 1st Sgt. Poolaw’s heroism would reach unprecedented heights.

When all hell broke loose around them, Poolaw went into action. According to the Silver Star citation, “Under a hail of fire, Poolaw raced to the lead squad, exposed all the way, and deployed the squad there to lay down a base of fire.”

It was said that this action alone saved many lives in his unit that day. This was not all that he did that day though. 1st Sgt. Poolaw continued to move back and forth across the field of enemy fire to make sure all were positioned properly and getting the most effect out of their return fire. While doing this he was also pulling the wounded back to medical care.


Source:   Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
Pascal Cleatus Poolow, Sr. among his men in Vietnam.

He was wounded himself by shrapnel and rifle fire during the course of these actions. He was later mortally wounded after being struck by a rocket propelled grenade while pulling yet another casualty out of the line of fire.

Over the course of Poolaw’s military career he would be awarded 42 medals and citations, including a Distinguished Service Medal, four Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars, and three Purple Hearts, as well as campaign medals from three wars.

Pascal Cleatus Poolaw, Sr. was a warrior in the fullest sense of that word. He was a warrior for his family, his people, and his country. Indeed, his heroism was defined by his love of family, of the traditions of his people, and the United States of America. To have carried this love out in service through three of the 20th century’s most bloody conflicts is a feat of heroism unlike any other. He was a humble man who dedicated his entire life to causes much larger than himself.


Source:   Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
1st Sgt. Pascal Cleatus Poolow, Sr.

In the book,   The Journey of Crazy Horse , by Joseph M. Marshall III, a fellow Lakota, saw in Crazy Horse as an example of the kind of leadership that others gladly followed in peace and in war fighting. Marshall defines the characteristics of true leadership in this way: “True leadership is exercised when someone performs a necessary or critical task and accomplishes an objective thereby setting an example. Leadership by example, then, is the truest and most effective kind.”

Pascal Poolaw, Jr. was an example of this kind of leadership character as well. He was a man of great dignity, and a warrior of great honor.

At his funeral, Poolaw’s wife Irene gave the eulogy and said of her husband, “He has followed the trail of the great chiefs. His people hold him in honor and highest esteem. He has given his life for the people and the country he loved so much.”

The Veterans Site wishes to send its deepest respect to the family of Pascal Cleatus Poolaw and to the Kiowa people of Oklahoma. You remain an example to all of us. Rest in Peace good warrior.

In the spirit of Crazy Horse, Hoka Hey



For those of you that are not familiar with military awards the top award is the ''Combat Infantrymen Badge'' with two stars. 1st Sargent Poolaw was a front line combat infantrymen in three wars. WWII, Korea and Vietnam. He was KIA 1967 Vietnam. 1st Sargent Poolaw is one of the very very few soldiers I've ever seen that received this award three times.

The next three are the Silver Star and the Bronze Star awarded for bravery under fire. The third is the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat. 

Four Silver Stars, Five Bronze Stars and Three Purple Hearts. Courage under fire doesn't began to tell us the courage of 1st Sargent Poolaw.

1st Sargent Poolaw wore eight small gold bars on his lower right sleeve. Each one indicates six months in combat...A total of 48 months in combat..


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1  seeder  Kavika     last year

1st Sargent's grandson, S/Sgt Roderick Poolaw retired from the Army in 2017 with 30 years of service. He was born shortly after his grandfather was KIA in Vietnam. 

1st Sargent Poolaw fought in WWII at the same time his father and two uncles were also fighting in WWII. 

His two sons both fought in Vietnam, one son lost his leg to a landmine. 

I have been fortunate in my life to have interacted with two of this years inductees. 

Billy Frank Jr. and Louis Erdrich. 

Sparty On
2  Sparty On    last year

Well deserved!

Great seed Kavika, thx

Bob Nelson
3  Bob Nelson    last year

The rifle with two stars impresses me the most.

Our "Advisor Sergeant" during ROTC Basic Training at Benning was surely the most impressive person I have ever known. Quiet-spoken, with a parachute and two stars...

3.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Bob Nelson @3    last year

If the Jump Wings had two oak cluster in them it signifies two combat jumps. Odds of survival, low. 

If the wings had a star on top of them or a star surrounded by a wreath that would signify a master or senior jumper based on the number of jumps.

Not a lot that I cherish but my CIB, jump wings and Eagle feather awarded by my tribe are in that small group of cherished items. 

Bob Nelson
3.1.1  Bob Nelson  replied to  Kavika @3.1    last year

Two stars on top. Combat jumps in Europe, Korea and 'Nam.

It's humid at Benning. Every day, we stood at parade-rest, listening to the Captain's debriefing, wondering if the skies would hold off until we heard "Attention! ... Dismissed!" and thundered off to the mess. The Sergeant-Major stood at parade-rest beside us.

One day, the skies opened. We stood there, while the Captain retreated to the doorway of his bungalow with a bull-horn. We were thoroughly soaked by the time we heard "Dismissed." So was the Sergeant-Major.

A few of us hung around to see what the Sergeant-Major would do. He walked calmly to the Captain's door, now closed, and knocked... still under a pouring rain. We did not hear whatever they said.

The next day, there was a new Captain. Rumor had it that the Battalion Commander had once been in Basic Training with the Sergeant-Major, but that was unconfirmed rumor.

In any case, we had a new Captain.

3.1.2  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Bob Nelson @3.1.1    last year
Korea and 'Nam.

Korea it had to be the 187th RCT (Airborne). Vietnam it had to be the 173rd Airborne.

Sargent Majors don't suffer fools or officers that do not stay with their men no matter what..The old rain or shine. 

Bob Nelson
3.1.3  Bob Nelson  replied to  Kavika @3.1.2    last year

One of our tests was running around a very sandy track... in combat boots, of course.

I was in good shape, so I did okay. Some of the others had trouble. The Sergeant-Major spent the morning running around the track, "encouraging" the laggards... more or less vigorously...

He would catch up with one, "encourage" him... and then run on to catch up with another. All morning. He retired a few months later.

3.1.4  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Bob Nelson @3.1.3    last year

Well he was an old ''trooper'' (Airborne) so everything we do is double time...LOL...walking is not permitted and is only for legs (non Airborne)

I'm sure that his encouraging was ''encouraging''...

Bob Nelson
3.1.5  Bob Nelson  replied to  Kavika @3.1.4    last year

When we "graduated", he told us he would be proud to serve under our orders.

We knew it was hooey... and we were bursting with pride.

4  Enoch    last year

Dear Brother Kavika: Many thanks for this article.

We cannot ever repay the debt Native Americans  gave and give us by their service.

We can and should try.

This helps.


4.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Enoch @4    last year
We cannot ever repay the debt Native Americans  gave and give us by their service.

We can and should try.

This helps.

Indeed it does help niijii... Sargent Poolaw was one of a kind. A soldiers soldier.

5  JohnRussell    last year

Great man. 

5.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  JohnRussell @5    last year
Great man. 

That he was JR.

6  LynneA    last year

Thank you Kavika for posting this enlightening article.  Truly an American to be honored and esteemed.

6.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  LynneA @6    last year
Truly an American to be honored and esteemed.

Without a doubt Lynne.

Buzz of the Orient
7  Buzz of the Orient    last year

Anyone who doesn't think that Native Americans are the most courageous of all Americans can try standing beside one on a steel girder of a building under construction 300 feet above ground.


7.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Buzz of the Orient @7    last year

The Mohawks that helped build Manhattan.


Perrie Halpern R.A.
7.1.1  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Kavika @7.1    last year

Indeed they did!

8  1stwarrior    last year

I wish I had known this warrior.

Semper Fi.

8.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  1stwarrior @8    last year
I wish I had known this warrior.

So do I, 1st...

Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom
9  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom    last year

A true warrior.  A true hero.  And considering what a wonderful role model he must have been, there was no way he could have kept his sons out of combat, not even if he locked them in the basement.

10  seeder  Kavika     last year
A true warrior.  A true hero.  And considering what a wonderful role model he must have been, there was no way he could have kept his sons out of combat, not even if he locked them in the basement.

Sure can't argue with that sister. 

This is a photo of 1st Sargent Poolaw taken in 1953 in Oklahoma...Note the that the good Sargent is holding the American flag and that many of the Kiowa tribe are also holding American flags. 

Ironic, but that's a story for another time.


Perrie Halpern R.A.
11  Perrie Halpern R.A.    last year


You keep bringing us these wonderful tales of our people that have given so much to this country and should make all Americans proud. What an outstanding family and what amazing bravery. 

12  seeder  Kavika     last year

Although we are small in population our contributions to America are great in number and importance. 

13  1stwarrior    last year

Ya know, I "could be wrong" (but I doubt it), but he was a large man.  Looking at the photo at the beginning of the thread, he's kneeling and holding an M-14.  Damn thing looks the size of the ol' M-1 Carbine in his hands - then look at him in the photo above - towering over the women next to him - wowza.  Wouldn't wanna ever pizz him off - fer shure, fer shure.

13.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  1stwarrior @13    last year

I noticed the same thing 1st...In other photos I found of him he surely is a solidly built guy. 

Raven Wing
14  Raven Wing    last year

This is a wonderful article, Kavika, thank you for sharing it with us.

It is truly great that many of the Native Americans who gave so much, and those who gave their all, to finally be given the recognition they so well deserve.

Not all those who served in the many wars of America have been only those of European decent. The Native American "Code Talkers" from various Tribes made a huge contribution during WWII that also save many lives of our American forces in harms way. 

1st Sargent Poolaw not only did himself proud, but, all Native Americans, in his dedicated service to his country.

nv-wa-do-hi-ya-dv (Peace)

14.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Raven Wing @14    last year
1st Sargent Poolaw not only did himself proud, but, all Native Americans, in his dedicated service to his country.

Indeed he did RW.

15  dave-2693993    last year

Incredinle story of am incredible man Kavika.

Thank you.

15.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  dave-2693993 @15    last year

He really was an incredible man, dave...

Trout Giggles
16  Trout Giggles    last year

Great story, Kavika and thanks for the "manual" on the awards


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