Pascal Cleatus Poolaw, Sr

First Sergeant
Army of the United States
29 January 1922 - 07 November 1967
Apache, Oklahoma
Panel 29E Line 043

CIB, 3rd Award

Silver Star (3 awards), Purple Heart (3 awards)
Pascal C. Poolaw

The database page for Pascal Cleatus Poolaw, Sr

26 Oct 2003

First Sergeant Pascal C. Poolaw was a hero in three wars, WW2, Korea, and Vietnam. He was a full blooded Kiowa Indian who enlisted in the Army during WW2 and was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart fighting the German Army.

During the Korean War, Pascal was wounded again and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and a second Purple Heart.

Although he retired in 1962, he decided to reenter the Army in an effort to keep his four sons, who were all in military service, from having to go to Vietnam.

1SG Poolaw was killed attempting to rescue his Battalion Commander and his staff from an overwhelming enemy assault. As 1SG Poolaw was carrying a wounded soldier to safety, he was struck by a rocket propelled grenade and killed. For his heroic actions 1SG Poolaw was awarded his second Silver Star and third Purple Heart posthumously.

1SG Poolaw was my unit First Sergeant during 1958-59 while I was assigned to the 7th Infantry Division in Korea. 1SG Poolaw has been honored many times since his death in Vietnam. He is the most decorated Kiowa Indian ever to have served in the U. S. Military. A more dedicated soldier could never have been found than 1SG Poolaw. This nation owes this genuine hero a great debt of gratitude for his service and ultimate sacrifice of his life as he fought for and died attempting to save fellow servicemen.

First Sergeant Poolaw will always be my hero.

From a soldier in his unit in Korea,
Donald H. Pruitt
Master Sergeant, US Army (Ret)
38 Azalea Drive S E, Cartersville, Georgia 30121

01 Jun 2006

As we celebrate another Memorial Day, I just want to tell a great soldier, American and friend that you are not forgotten here on earth. You reached the apex as a great leader and sacrificed your life while saving fellow members of your unit in Vietnam. I have spoken with many members of your family and fellow soldiers who have great memories of your wonderful life you shared with us all. I trust you are looking down on us with that familiar smile on your face. Thanks very much for being a friend and military leader to so many grateful soldiers who were honored to serve with you "FIRST SERGEANT".

From a friend and former member of his unit,
Donald H. Pruitt
MSG US Army (Ret)

15 Apr 2004

On April 2nd 2004 Aubree Jo Ann Poolaw was born. She is the most perfect little girl. I just want to say thanks to you and your family.

Donald E. Poolaw
13320 U S Hwy 431 N, Central City, Ky 42330

24 Nov 2005

Shortly after 1SG Poolaw was assigned to the company I began to understand what it meant to be the First Sergeant. He appeared to never sleep, constantly checking the line, giving words of encouragement, and putting a boot in the butt when he knew it was needed. I rotated back to the states in October, and of all the soldiers I came in contact with over the years his is the one name I never forget. When I was selected for Sergeant Major I paid a visit to the Wall, and left my First Sergeant Chevrons at the base of the panel bearing his name. It was his teachings that helped me grow from a gangly boy of 19 to a man. I will always honor his memory.

Norris W. Ridgeway
Co C 1/26 1966-1967

14 Mar 2006

I joined Charley Company in mid-October, 1967 having been transferred up from Alpha, 2/28th. 1st Sgt Poolaw and Captain Len Tavernetti assigned me to the November platoon (3rd platoon).

1st Sgt Poolaw and Robert Stryker were like two cats going after each other off and on. Stryker had the ability to make Poolaw mad and Poolaw would threaten to catch him and tar and feather him. It was so funny to watch ... as long as we all stayed out of their little battles.

1st Sgt Poolaw was a master psychologist whether he would admit to it or not. He knew how to motivate his men. He was able to maximize effort with his orders to insure that the job not only got done but got done correctly.

There were many a teary eyed grunt as we carried his body over to the LZ. Some of the men who knew him well were very upset. We had lost not only a good leader but an inspirational one as well. Every once in awhile, we would catch him smiling as he talked about his Charlie Company men.

On November 6th, we landed in a LZ on top of a big hill. We all joked it was a 'hot LZ' and it was ... not because of incoming fire but the fact that the gunships had come in shooting on the first lift and set the elephant grass on fire! It was probably 90+ degrees as well.

1st Sgt Poolaw was directing the incoming supply loads in addition to assisting the set up for our Dobol bunkers with interlocking fire slots. He made sure we got extra engineer stakes for the command group so their bunker would have sufficient overhead cover in case of mortar fire. You see, he had a hunch this was a bad 'A.O.' (Area of Operation). With a twinkle in his eyes, he told us on the detail that day "Good job, men. You've worked hard."

Like an 1850's Cavalry soldier, he died with his boots on. Like a Native American, he went down with honor trying to help his fellow soldiers.

May he and Stryker continue their personal verbal bouts up in the heavens!

From a friend,
Bob Morris
9300 Sw Inez Street, Tigard, Or 97224-5875

At the interment of First Sergeant Pascal C. Poolaw,
much-decorated Kiowa killed in Vietnam,
his widow, Irene, kisses the flag that draped his casket.
Photograph by Bill Dixon, Lawton (OK) Constitution.
Courtesy of the
Fort Tours site
and the
Lawton (OK) Constitution


Apache Elder Irene Chalepah Poolaw,
widow of Kiowa hero, passes away at 79
By Liz Pollard

ANADARKO - One of the most respected ladies of the Kiowa and Apache tribes was laid to rest on Tuesday, February 15. Irene Chalepah Poolaw, widow of the most decorated Kiowa veteran, Pascal Poolaw, passed to the land of the spirits on Saturday, February 12 at Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City. The funeral was held at the Apache Tribal Complex in Anadarko on Tuesday morning, and she was buried on Chief's Knoll at Ft. Sill that afternoon.

Poolaw was born an Apache on February 20, 1920 to Alonzo and Rose Maynahonah Chalepah. She met her future husband, Pascal Cleatus Poolaw, Sr., at Riverside Indian School. The couple was married on March 15, 1940 at Rainy Mountain. Pascal Poolaw died a soldier in Vietnam in 1967, the most highly decorated Kiowa soldier in history. Poolaw Hall at Ft. Sill was named after him.

The Poolaws had four sons, all of whom were in the Army and three of whom served in Vietnam. Pascal enlisted in the Army in 1942 and won a Silver Star and a Purple Heart in World War II, fighting off the Germans from a machine gun position he manned and refused to leave. He fought again, and was wounded and honored again, in the Korean War, and he came out of retirement to serve in Vietnam, hoping his sons would not have to go. Pascal was further decorated for his actions in Vietnam, earning another Silver Star on November 7, 1967. He had been wounded but refused to quit. He carried another wounded soldier to safety, but was killed when a rocket-propelled grenade hit him.

Two sons, Lester Gene Poolaw of Lawton and Donald R. Poolaw of Anadarko, and one adopted son, John Beatty of Brooklyn, N.Y, survive Irene Poolaw. Her brother, Alfred Chalepah, Sr., still lives in Carnegie. Irene had 12 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and a great great grandchild.

Copyright 2000 by the
Native American Times
Included with their kind permission

Notes from The Virtual Wall

The Battle of Loc Ninh began on 29 October 1967 when the 272nd and 273rd Viet Cong Regiments converged on Loc Ninh, the 272nd from the northeast and the 273rd from the west. At 0100 hours on 29 October the 273rd Regiment attacked the district headquarters and the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) and Special Forces camp at the Loc Ninh airfield. The 273rd Regiment pressed the attack until 0535 when it was forced to withdraw. Although it had briefly penetrated the CIDG compound, there were 147 Viet Cong bodies on the battlefield.

In reaction to the attack, Major General John H. Hay, Jr., commander of the 1st Infantry Division, deployed four battalions and their supporting artillery in a rough square around Loc Ninh. At 0630 on 29 October the 1/18th Infantry made an air assault into the southwestern corner of the square, four kilometers west of the Loc Ninh airstrip. Elements of 2/28th Infantry, and two batteries of artillery were moved to the airstrip. 1/26th Infantry and 1/28th Infantry were moved to Quan Loi, from where they could be committed as the situation developed. Seven major engagements were fought during the following week, with heavy losses inflicted on both VC regiments.

The final engagement occurred on 7 November, when two companies of 1/26th Infantry engaged the 3rd Battalion of the 272nd Viet Cong Regiment. On 6 November 1/26 air-assaulted into an area roughly eight kilometers northeast of Loc Ninh. The day after the air assault, Companies C and D and Colonel Stigall's command group engaged the 3/272nd Regiment. Artillery, armed helicopters, and air strikes supported the U. S. troops. Although fifteen U. S. troops died in heavy fighting, ninety-three enemy soldiers were killed - and the battle of Loc Ninh ended with the remnants of the two VC regiments withdrawing into the mountains. One Medal of Honor, two Distinguished Service Crosses, and at least two Silver Stars were earned that day.

The fifteen men who died in the fighting are

  • HQ Company, 1/26
    • COL Arthur D. Stigall, Chase, LA (Dist Svc Cross)

  • B Company, 1/26
    • PSGT George D. Clayton, Belmar, NJ (Silver Star)

  • C Company, 1/26
    • 1SG Pascal C. Poolaw, Apache, OK (Silver Star)
    • SGT Ronald H. Payne, Bloomingdale, GA
    • SGT Charles E. Long, Clanton, AL (HHC w/ C/1/26)
    • 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, HHC w/ C/1/26)

  • D Company, 1/26
    • SP4 Lawrence W. Barkley, Columbus, OH
    • SP4 Clarence L. Shaw, Ardmore, OK (Dist Svc Cross)
    • SP4 Larry E. Turner, Columbus, OH
    • PFC Walter C. Bunyea, Las Cruces, NM
The photo at the top of the page was taken while Sergeant Poolaw was serving in Korea before his 1962 retirement.

First Sergeant Poolaw's legacy of service continues, in a sense; not only did his four sons serve in uniform during the Vietnam era, his grandson Donald R. Poolaw has spent the past 14 years wearing the uniform of a United States Marine and recently returned from service in Iraq.

1LT Pascal Cletus Poolaw
Kiowa, US Army
World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War
Killed in Action on November 7, 1967.

Perhaps the greatest American Indian Soldier to ever serve with the Armed Forces of the United States. 1LT Poolaw fought in World War II, the Korean War and died during the Vietnam War. He was given a battlefield commission in Korea but went back to the enlisted ranks afterwards. First Sergeant Poolaw retired from the US Army in 1962 but reentered service to go to Vietnam. He had four sons serving on active duty with him. 1SG Poolaw was assigned as a First Sergeant with C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment. He was killed in Binh Long Province during the Battle of Loc Ninh.

During his service 1SG Poolaw earned forty-two decorations, medal, badges, citations and campaign ribbons, including twenty-two for combat service. 1SG Poolaw was nominated for the Medal of Honor. He was decorated for valor thirteen times. Those decorations were the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star (3 awards); Bronze Star (5 awards); Purple Heart (3 awards); and the Army Commendation Medal (3 awards). There is a building on Fort Sill named in his honor and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Famous American Indians located in Anadarko. 1SG Poolaw is buried at the Fort Sill Post Cemetery.

Lanny G. Asepermy
Sergeant Major, U. S. Army (Ret)

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 26 Oct 2003
Last updated 08/10/2009