American Indian Medal of Honor Recipants
In the 20th century, five American Indians have been among those soldiers to be distinguished by receiving the United States'
highest military honor: the Medal of Honor. Given for military heroism "above and beyond the call of duty," these warriors
exhibited extraordinary bravery in the face of the enemy and, in two cases, made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Jack C. Montgomery. A Cherokee from Oklahoma, and a First Lieutenant with the 45th Infantry Division Thunderbirds. On 22 February
1944, near Padiglione, Italy, Montgomery's rifle platoon was under fire by three echelons of enemy forces, when he single-handedly
attacked all three positions, taking prisoners in the process. As a result 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. Childers received the Medal
of Honor for heroic action in 1943 when, up against machine gun fire, he and eight men charged the enemy. Although suffering
a broken foot in the assault, Childers ordered covering fire and 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. 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 fieldpiece 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 Korea. 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 and stayed in his position firing his automatic rifle and point-blank to check the assault. This gave his company
time to consolidate their defenses. After being severely wounded by enemy fire, he refused assistance and continued firing
upon the enemy until he was fatally wounded. His heroic action prevented the enemy from overrunning his company's position
and gained time for evacuation of the wounded.
Charles George. A Cherokee from North Carolina, and Private First Class in Korea when he was killed on 30 November 1952. During
battle, George threw himself upon a grenade and smothered it with his body. In doing so, he sacrificed his own life but saved
the lives of his comrades. For this brave and selfless act, George was posthumously award the Medal of Honor in 1954.