Pascal Cleatus Poolaw is one of the most decorated Native American soldiers in United States history. He was a member of the Kiowa Native American tribe, who were known for being proud warriors.
Headed To War
The Apache, Oklahoma-born Poolaw joined the military in 1942. His father and two brothers were already fighting in WWII. After basic training, he went to Europe.
In 1944, Poolaw joined the 8th Infantry Regiment's M Company by Recogne, Belgium. Sgt. Poolaw and his men moved forward against the Germans despite taking on heavy fire from German machine guns.
Poolaw was hurt in the fight but continued. For his bravery, he was awarded a Silver Star and a Purple Heart.
“Due to Sergeant Poolaw’s actions, many of his comrades’ lives were saved and the company was able to continue the attack and capture strongly defended enemy positions. Sergeant Poolaw’s display of courage, aggressive spirit and complete disregard for personal safety are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.”Silver Star Citation
Poolaw continued with the Army after WWII and was sent to Korea, where Sgt. First Class Poolaw earned his next Silver Star. In September of 1950, his company was taking heavy fire, so he voluntarily took a squad around the enemy's perimeter and engaged in an intense fight.
Near Chongong-ni, now Master Sgt. Poolaw's squad was pinned by enemy fire. Poolaw went into the open firing at the enemy, allowing his squad to get to safer ground, earning him a third Silver Star. While in Korea, he also earned a Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross.
Poolaw retired after serving ten years stateside.
Poolaw's four sons were enlisted in the service during the Vietnam War. One of his sons, Pascal Cleatus Poolaw Jr., lost his right leg to a landmine. Lindy, Poolaw's youngest son, was drafted.
Poolaw decided to re-enlist in the Army so that he could fight, and Lindy would stay off of the front lines. However, Lindy was sent out the day before Poolaw was ready to leave the West Coast.
While on a search and destroy mission near Loc Ninh, the Viet Cong ambushed Poolaw and his men. While pulling a wounded soldier to safety, Poolaw was hit by an RPG.
Throughout his time in the military and over the course of three wars, Poolaw earned 42 medals and citations.