Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry
Jan. 29, 1922-Nov. 7, 1967
He was a full-blooded Kiowa. He was a man of honor and courage. He was a hero. He was and IS a legend. His accolades and deeds honor his heroism and the true spirt of the American Indian warrior.
Pascal Cleatus Poolaw was born on January 29, 1922, in Apache County, Oklahoma, to Ralph Poolaw. Sr. and Minnie Monetathchi Bointy. Pascal was the grandson of “Kiowa George” Poolaw. In 1893 through 1895, Kiowa George served in the all Indian Calvary, Troop 1, at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Pascal went to Riverside Indian School. There he met his future wife by the name of Irene Chalepah. She was his classmate and was of Apache lineage. Irene was born on February 20, 1920. Her father and mother were Alonzo and Rose Maynahonah Chalepah. They were married on March 15, 1940, at Rainy Mountain. They had four sons by the names of Lester, Pascal Jr., Lindy, and Donnie. All four of their children served in the military and three served in Vietnam.
The Kiowa warrior followed the tradition of his family and on August 27, 1942, Pascal Poolaw enlisted into the army. His father and two of his uncles were also in the military and fighting in World War II. Pascal was with the 8th Infantry in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) from 1943 until 1945. The mighty 8th was involved in the following campaigns: Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, and Central Europe.
In September 1944, while on duty in Germany, he was wounded. But in the tradition of American Indian warrior creed, he never wavered in his duties and saved many in his band of brothers. For his actions, he was presented with his 1st Silver Star.
The citation reads as follows; “The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Staff Sergeant Pascal Cleatus Poolaw (ASN: 18131087), United States Army, for gallantry in action against the enemy while serving with Company M, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, near Recogne, Belgium, on 8 September 1944. While attacking in support of a rifle company, Sergeant Poolaw displaced his machine gun squad forward across an open field under heavy mortar and small arms fire in such a manner as to affect a minimum number of casualties among his squad. After reaching his new position, Sergeant Poolaw saw the enemy advance in a strong counterattack. Standing unflinchingly in the face of withering machine gun fire for five minutes, he hurled hand grenades until the enemy force sustained numerous casualties and was dispersed. 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.”
Pascal continued his military career and when the Korean War began, he was sent to that peninsula. Because of his acts of bravery, he received a battlefield commission to 2nd Lieutenant. Later he resigned his commission, preferring to remain a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO).
His 2nd Silver Star was awarded to him for his bravery under fire and his disregard for his own safety while assisting his brothers in arms. The citation for his second Silver Star, earned in Korea, is as follows;
“The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Silver Star to Sergeant First Class Pascal Cleatus Poolaw (ASN: 18131087), United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Company C, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. On 19 September 1950 when the company attack on an enemy position was halted by stiff enemy resistance, Sergeant First Class Poolaw volunteered to lead his squad in an assault. Courageously leading his men in a charge up the slope to penetrate the enemy perimeter and engage the numerically superior enemy in fierce hand-to-hand combat, Sergeant First Class Poolaw inspired his men to hold their position until the remainder of the company was able to seize the objective. Sergeant First Class Poolaw’s outstanding leadership reflects great credit upon himself and is in keeping with the highest traditions of the American Soldier.”
On April 4, 1951, once again, Sergeant Poolaw honored his people and the warriors creed by serving the calling of America. For his actions on that day, Master Sergeant Poolaw received his 3rd Silver Star. The third citation reads as follows:
“The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting a Second Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Third Award of the Silver Star to Master Sergeant Pascal Cleatus Poolaw (ASN: 18131087), United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Company C, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. On 4 April 1951 near Chongong-ni, Korea, while attacking strong hostile positions, one squad of Master Sergeant Poolaw’s platoon was immobilized by a devastating automatic weapons and mortar barrage. Exposing himself to the deadly fire, he slowly advanced across open terrain, firing his rifle as he progressed. By deliberately diverting the attention of the foe to himself, he enabled his men to maneuver to more advantageous positions. Master Sergeant Poolaw’s valorous actions were instrumental in the fulfillment of the unit mission and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the American Soldier.”
Upon his return to the United States, Sergeant Poolaw continued his distinguished service. In 1962, he retired from the military. But the winds of war came and called upon another of his sons to serve. Sergeant Poolaw’s son, Spec 4 Pascal C. Poolaw Jr., had served in Vietnam and was wounded in February 1967.
He was hit by a mine which lead to his right leg being amputated below the knees. When Lindy received his call to service, his father reenlisted and volunteered for Vietnam in an effort to keep his son out of the war zone. Unfortunately one day before Sergeant Poolaw was ready to deport from the West Coast, Lindy (his son) had left for Vietnam. His father was determined to follow.
First Sergeant Poolaw served approximately four months before he went on his final mission. In a letter to his family just before demise, he stated that his job was ‘more important than life’. Soon those words would come true. The Kiowa warrior gave his all attempting to save his men. While on a search and destroy mission near Loc Ninh, they came under intense fire by superior Viet Cong force. While exposed to enemy fire, First Sergeant Poolaw deployed the men to ‘lay down a base of fire’. Though wounded, he moved amongst the troops, pulling back those wounded, without regard of his own safety. While in yet another attempt to rescue a fallen comrade, First Sergeant Poolaw, that brave Kiowa warrior, was mortally wounded. He was hit by a rocket propelled grenade. He was forty-five years of age.
The citation for First Sergeant Poolaw’s 4th Silver Star, awarded posthumously for action in Vietnam, reads as follows; “The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 8, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pride in presenting a Third Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Fourth Award of the Silver Star (Posthumously) to First Sergeant Pascal Cleatus Poolaw (ASN: 18131087), United States Army, for gallantry in action against a hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam on 7 November 1967, while serving with Company C, 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. On this date, during Operation SHENANDOAH II, 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 assisting a wounded man to safety when he was mortally wounded by Viet Cong fire.
His dynamic leadership and exemplary courage contributed significantly to the successful deployment of the lead squad and undoubtedly saved the lives of many of his fellow soldiers. First Sergeant Poolaw’s unquestionable valor in close combat against numerically superior hostile forces is in keeping with the finest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 1st Infantry Division, and the United States Army. It should be noted that in the ferocious fighting at the Battle of Loc Ninh where he earned his 4th Silver Star and 3rd Purple Heart, it also resulted in the awards of 1 Medal of Honor, 2 Distinguished Service Crosses and one other Silver Star. 14 other US Army soldiers also lost their lives in that engagement.”
The men who died in the Battle of Loc Ninh are:
Colonel Arthur D. Stigall Chase, LA (D Svc Cross)
PSGT George D. Clayton, Belmar, NJ (Silver Star)
1SG Pascal C. Poolaw, Apache, OK (Silver Star)
GGT Ronald H. Payne, Bloomingdale, GA
SGT Charles E. Long, Clanton, AL
SP4 Billie J. Barnett, Overland, MO
SP4 James R. Brown, Tennessee Colony, TX
SP4 Robert F. Stryker, Auburn, NY (Medal of Honor)
SP4 John E. Young, Oconto, WI
PFC Larry C. Banks, Nashville, IN
PFC Ronald G. Stoltenow, Hankinson, ND (Medic)
SP4 Lawrence W. Barkley, Columbus, OH
SP4 Clarence L. Shaw, Ardmore, OK (D Svc Cross)
SP4 Larry E. Turner, Columbus, OH
PFC Walter C. Bunyea, Las Cruces, NM
First Sergeant Pascal C. Poolaw exemplifies the warrior’s spirit. His bravery and devotion to his family and country are what legends are made. He represents the best of us in the worst of times. His accolades are many but more importantly, his example in legendary (John 15:13).
First Sergeant is among the elite. He is one of the few men who ever wore the Combat Infantry Badge with 2 stars. His honors include the Combat Infantry Badge with 2 stars, the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, Bronze Star with a V device and 4 Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal with a V device and 2 Oak Leaf Cluster2 and the Purple Heart with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters.
In all, he received 42 medals and citations. Included are five Bronze Stas, three Purple Hearts and four Silver Stars. Poolaw Hall at Fort Sill is named after him. There is an exhibit dedicated to this Kiowa warrior. He was inducted into the American Indian Hall of Fame located in his hometown of Anadarko, Oklahoma. His name is immortalized on the Vietnam War Memorial.
Pascal Cleatus Poolaw Sr.
Panel 29E, Line 43
Pascal C. Poolwa Sr
Home Records: Apache
County of Record: Caddo County, OK
Casualty Province: Binh Long
Ironically, on October 22, 1968, while in Germany, SGT Lindy W. Poolaw was struck by a car and later died. It was less than one year from the date his father, Pascal, was killed.
Irene, Pascal’s wife, one of the most respected ladies of the Apache and Kiowa tribes, died in 2000 and was buried on Chief’s Knoll at Ft. Sill.