Pascal Poolaw was a citizen of the Kiowa nation. He was born in Apache, Oklahoma on January 29, 1922, to Ralph Emerson Poolaw and Minnie Montathchi Bointy. He married Irene Chalepah on March 15, 1940, and they had four sons. He would serve 25 years in the United States Army and fight in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Over those years of service, he would become the mostly highly decorated Native American in U.S. military history.
When Poolaw joined the Army in 1942, his father and brother were already serving. He would land at Normandy and would receive his first Purple Heart in Belgium in September of 1944. He earned his first Silver Star in action near Recogne, Belgium with M Co, 8th Infantry Regiment. On that occasion he led his men forward single handedly hurling grenades and firing his weapon at German machine gun nests so fiercely that the German forces finally had to withdraw.
He was still in the Army when the Korean War broke out. In the time he was in Korea, he would be awarded two more Silver Stars, the Distinguished Service Cross and another Purple Heart. He returned home from Vietnam in 1952 and stayed in another 10 years, retiring in 1962.
In 1967, Poolaw’s son, Pascal Poolaw jr. was in Vietnam with the Army. In February of 1967 Pascal jr. was wounded by a landmine and lost his right leg below the knee. Poolaw’s youngest son, Lindy, was drafted and was going to be deployed to Vietnam shortly after that. This was too much for Pascal senior. He re-joined the Army hoping to go to Vietnam in place of his youngest son, Lindy. But Lindy was already on the way to Vietnam when Poolaw senior arrived on the West Coast.
Poolaw deployed to Vietnam on May 31, 1967 as the First Sgt. of C Co. of the 26th Infantry Regiment. On November 7, Poolaw was killed in action (KIA) in a VIet Cong ambush near Binh Phuoc while attempting to pull a wounded comrade to safety. For his actions that day he was awarded his 4th Silver Star, posthumously.
Clearly, Pascal Poolaw was a warrior of uncommon valor throughout his distinguished military career. He fought in three of the most costly wars in the 20th Century always leading his men with skill, courage and loving care.
In his 25 years of service, he would be awarded 42 medals and citations including: The Distinguished Service Cross, 4 Silver Stars, 5 Bronze Stars, and 3 Purple Hearts.
The Veterans Site is proud to honor the memory and the legacy of 1st Sgt. Pascal Poolaw, Sr. for his long, courageous and dedicated service to the nation in the United States Army. His name holds a highly honored place among his people, the Kiowa Nation of Oklahoma, as well as a high place in the annals of the history of the United States Army. Our thanks to him, to his family and to the Kiowa People is a small token of the honor we hold him in. We will not forget.
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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.