Congressional Medal of Honor hero Ernest 'Ernie' CHILDERS [1918 - 2005].
Ernest Childers (1918-2005) (Creek) joined the National Guard of Oklahoma in 1937 on graduation from Chilocco Indian School, and was called up for active duty in the U.S. Army by President Franklin Roosevelt's Executive Orders of August and September 1940. Indians from Montana Indian Reservations routinely joined the National Guard as soon as age eligible on return from school or graduation from the Chemawa Indian School at Salem, Oregon. Thus, when Executive Order 8530 was issued on August 27, 1940, a generation of young adult men of Fort Peck and Fort Belknap were drawn into the ranks of Company B, 41st Division [aka "Sunset Division" and loaded on a troop train headed for basic and advanced training at Camp Murray (Washington National Guard training center at Tacoma) and the Fort Lewis U.S. Army Base (between Tacoma and the Nisqually River in Pierce County, WA. Oklahoma call-ups headed toward Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri [where both my father and I received our basic training decades (1942 / 1965) decades apart] and other bases east of the Mississippi River. Like Childers in WWII, many of these NG call-ups and regular enlistees were sent to the European and North Africa war theaters, while most from the Northern Plains (Montana) and Pacific Northwest were sent to the Pacific theater and ultimately Japan in occupation. Major Childers received his Congressional Medal of Honor for extraordinary service, heroism and gallantry in action on September 23, 1943 in Oliveto, Italy. Retiring from active service with rank of Lt. Colonel in 1965 in Alaska, he continued to live an exemplary and distinguished life until his death in 2005. In his obituary, The Washington Post reported:
"After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he wrote a widely circulated statement condemning vigilante attacks on Arab Americans.
'Even though I have darker skin than some Americans, that doesn't mean I'm any less patriotic than any other American," he wrote. "I am appalled that people who call themselves 'Americans' are attacking and killing other Americans simply because of their hair and skin color.'"