Sgt Pascal Cleatus Poolaw, Sr

Photo added by R. Boas

Sgt Pascal Cleatus Poolaw, Sr

  • Birth 22 Jan 1922 Apache, Caddo County, Oklahoma, USA
  • Death 7 Nov 1967 Binh Phuoc, Vietnam
  • Burial Fort Sill, Comanche County, Oklahoma, USA
  • Plot Section III Site 2302
  • Memorial ID 21687835

Poolaw has been called America's most decorated Indian soldier with 42 medals and citations. Among his medals are four Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars. He also earned three Purple Hearts, one for each of the wars in which he fought, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

The fourth Silver Star was awarded posthumously after Poolaw died during action in Vietnam. On Nov. 7, 1967, Poolaw's unit, Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, was part of a search and destroy mission near the village of Loc Ninh.

The unit was attacked by numerically superior Viet Cong force. Under a hail of fire, Poolaw raced to the lead squad, exposed all the way, and deployed the squad there to lay down a base of fire, the citation read. This action saved countless lives, but Poolaw wasn't finished.

Poolaw continued moving among the troops, making sure they were positioned properly pulling casualties back to the lines despite being wounded himself. He was mortally wounded as he pulled another casualty back to the lines.

His devotion to his soldiers was exceeded only by the love of his family. Poolaw served in Vietnam trying to spare his son the horrors of war.

When his son, Lindy, received orders for Vietnam, Poolaw volunteered for the combat zone with he hope of serving there in place of his son. Regulations prohibit two members of the same family from serving in combat at the same time without their consent.

Another of Poolaw's sons had already been in Vietnam which added to his wanting to spare Lindy. His son, Pascal Cleatus Poolaw, Jr., a Specialist 4, had been wounded in Vietnam in February 1967. The younger Poolaw was hit by a mine and received metal fragments in the legs. His right leg had to be amputated below the knee.

When the senior 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.

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.

Poolaw served almost four months in Vietnam before the fatal combat operation. In a letter he wrote just before his death, Poolaw said he rated his job as being more important than his life.

In her eulogy at Poolaw's funeral at the Fort Sill Post Cemetery, his wife, Irene, echoed those sentiments. "He has followed the trail of the great chiefs," she said. "His people hold him in honor and highest esteem. He has given his life for the people and the country he loved so much."

The example of Poolaw's bravery and devotion lives at Fort Sill, where he served for a year before going to Vietnam. Poolaw Hall at Sheridan Road was named after him and contains an exhibit dedicated to the American Indian soldier.

Pascal Cleatus Poolaw Sr.
A Hero on The Vietnam War Memorial
A full-blooded Kiowa from Anadarko, Sgt. 1st Class Pascal Cleatus Poolaw, who
served during three wars, was killed in Vietnam in 1967. He was 45.
A total of 42 awards and medals, including four Silver Stars, five Bonze Stars, one
Air Medal and three Purple Hearts, makes Poolaw the most decorated Indian
soldier in U.S. history.
Poolaw attended Riverside Indian School and married classmate, Irene Chalepah a
beautiful and good Apache woman. He joined the U.S. Army on August 27, 1942.
He rose through the ranks to earn a battlefield commission as a second
lieutenant, but later relinquished his commission.
While in service to his country, Poolaw was wounded in Germany in September
1944 and in Korea on April 4, 1951.
He earned a Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster, a Bronze Star with Oak Leaf
Clusters and a Silver Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters. He was awarded the Silver
Star when he was with the 8th Infantry in Belgium September 8, 1944. His citation
to the third Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster to the Bronze Star was awarded for his
service in the Korean War during 1950-51. He received his Silver Star in Korea
April 4, 1951.
Serving in a long line of military men, Poolaw served in World War II during the
time his father, Ralph Poolaw Sr., and his two brothers were also serving. His
grandfather, "Kiowa George" Poolaw served as a member of the famed all Indian
Cavalry Troop 1 at Fort Sill from 1893-95.
He served a year at Fort Sill before volunteering for duty in Vietnam. He had just
completed his 25th year of service when he was killed in action while rescuing his
wounded men under fire.

I linked the Lindy Poolaw to his parents with additional information today. At the time of his father's death in Vietnam, sibling PVT Donald R Poolaw was serving with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, Ft Leonard Wood, MO. Sibling SP5 Lester G Poolaw was serving with Battery C, 1st Missile Battalion, 67th Artillery in Wurzburg, Federal Republic of Germany. Sibling PFC Pascal C. Poolaw Jr was a patient at Brooke General Hospital, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. At the time of his father's death, Lindy was a PFC serving with Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in Vietnam. Information provided by Robert Fowler.

Family Members






  • Maintained by: Cokeman2
  • Originally Created by: Robert
  • Added: 21 Sep 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 21687835
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Sgt Pascal Cleatus Poolaw, Sr (22 Jan 1922–7 Nov 1967), Find A Grave Memorial no. 21687835, citing Fort Sill Post Cemetery, Fort Sill, Comanche County, Oklahoma, USA ; Maintained by Cokeman2 (contributor 47080869) .