Pascal 2

1st Sgt. Pascal Cleatus Poolaw Sr

The man you’re looking at is 1st Sgt. Pascal Cleatus Poolaw Sr, a full blooded Kiowa from Anadarko, Oklahoma, who joined the U.S. Army in 1942.

His military career and combat experience is beyond remarkable, fighting in WW2 with the 8th infantry in the ETO (43-45), then in Korea (50-52) and Vietnam (67).

His actions earned him 42 awards to include 3 Purple Hearts (one for each conflict), 4 Silver Stars, 5 Bronze Stars, CIB with 2 Stars, and a Distinguished Service Cross; making him the most decorated Native American Indian in US history. He even received a battlefield commission, but refused it. He then retired in 1962.

In 1967, his son Lindy, received orders for Vietnam. Having the father and son of the family serving in combat at the same time was nothing new to Poolaw. He had served in World War II with his dad, Ralph Poolaw Sr., and his two brothers. But upon learning about the letter, Poolaw came out of his retirement and volunteered for the combat zone with the hope of serving there in place of his son; sparing him the horrors of war. Regulations prohibit two members of the same family from serving in combat at the same time without their consent.

When Poolaw finally reached the port of departure on the West Coast, he discovered Lindy had left for Vietnam the day before. He decided to follow his son.

Only 4 months after arriving in country, on 7 November 1967, while serving with Co. C, 26th IR, 1st Inf Div.. First Sergeant Poolaw was accompanying his unit on a two-company search and destroy mission near Loc Ninh. As the patrol was moving through a rubber plantation, they were subjected to sniper fire. Within minutes, the area was raked with intensive claymore mine, rocket, small arms, and automatic weapons fire from a numerically superior Viet Cong force. First Sergeant Poolaw unhesitatingly ran to the lead squad which was receiving the brunt of the enemy fire. With complete disregard for his personal safety, he exposed himself to assist in deploying the men and establishing an effective base of fire. Although wounded, he continued to move about the area encouraging his men and pulling casualties to cover. He was dragging a wounded man to safety when he was mortally wounded.

In a letter he wrote just before his death, Poolaw said he rated his job as being more important than his life.

During his eulogy, wife Irene said: “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.”