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Pascal Poolaw
Poolaw during the Korean War
Birth name

Pascal Cleatus Poolaw

Born (1922-01-29)January 29, 1922
Died November 7, 1967(1967-11-07) (aged 45)
Place of birth Apache, Oklahoma, U.S.
Place of death near Loc Ninh, South Vietnam
Buried at Fort Sill National Cemetery
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1942–1967
Rank First lieutenant
Service number 18131087

Pascal Cleatus Poolaw (January 29, 1922 – November 7, 1967) was a Kiowa who served with the United States Army in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. He is the United States' most decorated Native American, with 42 medals and citations, including four Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars, as well as three Purple Hearts – one for each war.[1]

Early life[edit | edit source]

Pascal Poolaw was born in Apache, Oklahoma, to Ralph Emerson Poolaw and Minnie Monetathchi Bointy. He married Irene Chalepah on March 15, 1940, and had four sons: Lester, Pascal Jr., Lindy, and Donnie.

Military career[edit | edit source]

In 1942, Poolaw joined his father and two brothers in World War II. He earned his first Purple Heart when he was wounded in September 1944.[2] He earned his first Silver Star for his actions near Recogne, Belgium, while serving in the 8th Infantry Regiment's M Company, when he pushed his unit forward under heavy fire and hurled hand grenades at enemy machine guns until the enemy dispersed.[3]

He continued to serve in the Korean War, where he earned two more Silver Stars, and in July 1950, another Purple Heart,[2] before his return to the United States in 1952.[3] He retired from the Army in 1962. Poolaw's son Pascal Jr. had also joined the army and was serving in the Vietnam War in February 1967, when he got wounded in both legs by a landmine and had to have his right leg amputated below the knee. Poolaw's youngest son Lindy was also drafted and set to deploy to Vietnam shortly.

Poolaw rejoined the Army to prevent Lindy from having to serve, by taking his place. Lindy had already shipped out and Poolaw had hoped to catch up with him in time, but when he arrived on the West Coast, he discovered his son had already left the day before. He decided to follow his son to Vietnam.

Poolaw was deployed on May 31, 1967, as the first sergeant of the 26th Infantry Regiment's C Company. On November 7, while on a search and destroy mission during the first battle of Loc Ninh, Poolaw and his unit were ambushed by the Viet Cong. He was killed while attempting to pull a unit casualty to safety, and posthumously awarded a fourth Silver Star.[3]

Legacy[edit | edit source]

At his funeral his wife stated: "He has followed the trail of the great chiefs."[4] A building at the U.S. Army base in Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma—where he was stationed prior to his deployment to Vietnam—is named in his honor.[5]

Awards[edit | edit source]

Poolaw was the recipient of the following military decorations and service medals:[6]

Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg "V" device, brass.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Ribbon clasp
Arrowhead device.svgSilver-service-star-3d.svg
Bronze star
Silver-service-star-3d.svgBronze-service-star-3d-vector.svgBronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svgBronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg
Badge Combat Infantryman Badge
with two stars
1st row Distinguished Service Cross Silver Star Medal
with oak leaf clusters[3]
Bronze Star Medal
with "V" device and oak leaf clusters
2nd row Purple Heart
with oak leaf clusters
Air Medal Army Commendation Medal
with "V" device and oak leaf clusters
Good Conduct Medal
with good conduct loops
3rd row American Campaign Medal EAME Campaign Medal
with arrowhead and service star
World War II Victory Medal Army of Occupation Medal
4th row National Defense Service Medal
with service star
Korean Service Medal
with service stars
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Vietnam Service Medal
with service stars
5th row Korea Defense Service Medal United Nations Service Medal Vietnam Campaign Medal
with "60–" clasp
Korean War Service Medal
6th row Presidential Unit Citation Meritorious Unit Commendation
7th row Korea Presidential Unit Citation Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Army document "Pascal C. Poolaw Sr.".

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