Korean War Legacy Project

Donald Loudner


Donald E. Loudner was born on March 18, 1932 in South Dakota and is a member of the Hunkpati Sioux Tribe. In 1950, he joined the US Army because he wanted to serve his country. He attended basic training at Fort Carson, Colorado followed by communications school. Because of his special qualifications, he was chosen to work in code encryption, eventually working as an instructor. After the Korean War, he continued his service in the Army, retiring in 1983 as a Chief Warrant Officer. He continued to work for Bureau of Indian Affairs and Census Bureau. Today, he is active in the American Legion, Disabled Veterans of America, and is a well-known advocate for Native American veterans.

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American Indian Tradition

Donald Loudner talks about what he calls an "American Indian tradition" to serve in times of need. He describes how many of his cousins and other members of the Hunkpati Sioux tribe served in the Korean War.

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Donald Loudner talks about basic training Fort Carson, Colorado. He tells a story about earning the nickname "Tomahawk" because he could throw a grenade with such accuracy.

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Donald Loudner, of the Hunkpati Sioux Tribe, talks about discrimination that he faced as a native American in the US Army. He remembers an episode when he was asked to leave a cafe and how his commander responded.

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A Top Secret Job

Donald Loudner talks about what he did in the US Army. Not allowed to serve in Korea, he describes working in a top secret communications section where he was a code encryption instructor.

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Video Transcript



Transcribed by Sarah Ibrahim on 07/14/2018


[Beginning of Recorded Material]


Donald E. Loudner:    My name is Donald, D-O-N-A-L-D middle initial is E. My last name is Loudner, L-O-U-D-N-E-R.  I’m a Hunkpati Sioux American Indian from South Dakota.


Interviewer:                How many Korean War Veterans in your tribal groups?


D:        In my–in my tribe, the Hunkpati tribe.  H-U-N-K-P-A-T-I.




Sioux, S-I-O-U-X. Family, just my family alone, not just my dr–but my cousins. When the Korean War started in June 27th of 1950,


I:          Right.


D:        My grandfather, who served too, also back in the earlier days and my–my name my gra–my great–great–grandmother was married to this German man




and he was in the United States cavalry and– so that’s how my father and them came to–in fact they’re part German, but my mother was a full blooded Sioux so, so, I drop back down to have a lot of Indian blood in me but…


I:          Mm-hmm.


D:        when–when the Korean War broke out, he–they told–he told us he said, its always been the American Indian tradition to serve when




the time is–is of–in need for our country.


I:          Mm-hmm.


D:        So, he said it’s–it’s your heirs–he says your–your–your–your it’s your heir of all you–all you–all the kids that’s your age has to go volunteer and go.


I:          Mm-hmm.


D:        So, the Indians volunteer to go to every conflict and–and war that ever occurred in this country since the coming of the white–the white man




into our country.


I:          So, in your family how many family members went to Korean War?


D:        20–24 of us volunteered to go. All of the first cousins.  And I had three brothers that–there was three of us from my family, so we were part of the 24 and they all served in–in–in Korea or–or in di–different–different military units.  Like Air Force,




Navy Cost Guards, CB’s, Marines and Army and they all–they all–they–they put us where they wanted us.  And so that’s–so 24 of us went. And in my tribe alone, I would bet you to say we probably got maybe 70, 60 to 70 Korean War veterans from my tribe.


I:          How many tribes do you have?


D:        There’s 567




Indian tribes in the United States.


I:          And


D:        In–


I:          how many do you think you know that went to Korean War?


D:        Oh all–every tribe has got Korean War veterans.


I:          Every tribe?


D:        Yes.


I:          Why is that? What did–did–did U.S. government ask Indian Tribes to go to Korean War? Or did you volunteer or did you enlist?


D:        The Indians all volunteer.  Because I’ll tell you, back in the First World War,




the American Indians served for the United States of America when we wasn’t even citizens of our own country.  The–the United States didn’t make the American Indian a citizen of our country til 1953,


I:          Yeah.


D:        when President Dwight Eisenhower signed a–a–a–signed a papers to make the Indians full citizens of the




cou–of the United States. They made them partial citizens after World War I, but only for voting regis–voting purposes and stuff.


I:          But–


D:        But we had a lot served in World War I, World War II, Korea, every–every–every conflict.


I:          So, it is a tradition


D:        Right.


I:          in Indian tribes


D:        Right


I           that they answer the call from the state.


D:        Right, yes, for the United States, yes.




They volunteer to go.


I:          So all enlisted, not drafted.


D:        Nope, they all enlist.


I:          So, there is–there are 567 Indian Tribes, American Indian


D:        Right.


I:          Tribes in the United States and you think that every tribe send their folks to the Korean War?


D:        Yes. When I was in Washington, this last November, at the Arlington cemetery




and placed the wrath at the–at the tomb of the unknown soldier.


I:          Mm-hmm.


D:        Well, and I met the president of the Korean War Veterans,


I:          Larry?


D:        Larry, yes. And he–he asked me, he said Don let me ask you something, they told me you’re the national commander of all the Indian veterans, I says yes sir, I am. And he said can I talk to you? I said sure, I said, right now, I said I’m getting my people ready to–to make the presentation at the




wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier, but let me tell you something, Larry, I said I had to just about fight to get the honor to place a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier.  Because, I said, they said, why do you want to place a wreath there? I said because we have over 700 American Indian veterans that went to war, cause it–when the time was called and needed




and they never come home.  The Department of Defense knows–Department of Defense knows that the–that the Indians served, but they–they don’t know what happened to them.  They–they never came home–they got–they were missing in action.


I:          I will ask a lot of question about that,


D:        Okay.


I:          But when are you born and where were you born?


D:         I was born in 1932.


I:          Birthday?


D:        Birthday was March 18,






I:          March 18?


D:        Yes and I was born on a —-on a–on my tribal reservation in South Dakota. The Hunkpati Dakota Sioux tribe.


I:          Mm-hmm.


D:        And, like I said, I –I was one of the 24 that volunteered to go, but back in, back in World War II there was a–there was a ship that sunk in the Pacific




that had five brothers on that one ship, and they all died, so the Department of Defense said that–that that will never happen again.  All five members from one tri–from one family will never be put together with the possibility of them all getting killed at the same time.


I:          Right, right.


D:        So, of the three brothers that we went, I was one of the three, I was the youngest so my two older brothers they–they




They went in the service and cousins they all went in the service and served in Korea but they picked me to be in–in a special unit.  And which I can’t discuss because they say we can’t discuss what unit I was in, but they made me an instructor. And–and I served for–from 1950 to 1983.  And I was–and I was given a commission and I retired after 33 years.




I:          Yeah, so tell me about the–the period that you were growing up. Where did you go to school? What kind of school did you go? How was living in the–reservation in–in South Dakota, things like that, family members, your families and your parents?


D:        Okay, I come–I was born–there was all total about 9 in my family.




And other than–other than–than the 9, I was the baby in the family,


I:          Mm-hmm.


D:        The youngest.  And we come– I come from a very poor family and a lot of people look at me when I tell it, but I said, you know, I ne–we–we lived in a one room house, little house, and I said I never slept in a bed, I can honestly say I never slept in a bed until I was a senior in high school, because




here was no room when–all of my other brothers and sisters at the house and as they got older, they got married and they moved away and everything and–and I–I didn’t get to sleep in it. So finally when I was a senior, I finally got to sleep in the bed.


I:          You finally got your own bed.


D:        and then right after that, I left to go to the Korean War. And I never–and I–and I served for 33 years and I got a what they call a commission, I was retired after serving in the military for




33 years. I became a chief warrant officer for them.


I:          So, did you go through the school in the Indian Reservation?


D:        Yes, yes I went.


I:          Tell me about the school. Who–how was the system? Teachers and students how many students? What did you learn? Did you learn same thing as the regular schools public system in the United States?


D:        Yes, yes.


I:          Or, tell me about those.


D:        Okay.  When I went to school, back in–well,




I went to the grade school and stuff but I graduated in 1949-1950 year. And when I–when I went to go to school back there all our teachers–all our teachers was white. We didn’t have no Indians. Because they were–they–the United States government put us as incompetent.


I:          Mm-hmm.


D:        And they put us on reservations and they–we’re still there.  And even though




I served and after I got out of the military in–in a top administrative position for the federal government, I still would be incompetent. They declared me incompetent because I’m supposed to be–don’t know nothing, yet they hired me in one of the top positions.  The government thinks– still think that we’re savages, that we–we don’t know nothing. So they put the–they put all the white school teachers in–in there to teach us.




And they forbid us to speak our language when I–when– in 1949–’47, ’48 and ’49 because they said they thought we were talking about them by using our own language. When they can only understand English we were talking our language and they said we–we couldn’t do that no more. They used to punish us for that.


I:          So, is there any official kind of




regulation that you Indians are all incompetent? Or does–that’s what just they say it.


D:        No, the United States says that. And–


I:          Government officially say that?

D:        The government officials, yes.


I:          How do they treat you then? How do they–how do they–


D:        Well, they–they–they–they give money through the treaties.  See back in, my tribe was maybe was put on the reservation and in–in 1868.


I:          Uh-huh.




D:        And that’s when they put us on there. And they put us on these reservations and they gave allotments to the Indians,

I:          Uh-huh.


D:        And land. And this land was held in trust for– it’s our land, but the government held it in trust because we were incompetent.


I:          Uh-huh.


D:        And today–today after all these years, they–they’re still saying we’re incompetent. When we got–


I:          Saying in legal term?


D:        Yes.


I:          Legal term that you still are incompetent?


D:        Yes. Yes they got to




because otherwise they would tax our land. Our land is nontaxable on the reservation.


I:          So all– all this superficial benefits for the Indian reservation is based on the assumption that you are all incompetent.


D:        Through a treaty, yes through the treaty.


I:          So, you want to pay tax to the federal government saying that I’m not incompetent?


D:        Well I don’t–I don’t live on the reservation no more. I’m–after I went to the Korean War and I came home, and I retired from the military




after 33 years, I never went back. Because my wife and I decided we–we–we were too used to being amongst our friends living off the reservation.  So we didn’t go back to the reservation. I lost my wife in 1960–2008 and we–we lived in the–we lived off the reservations since 2–since 1950–’51.




I:          So, all teachers were white.


D:        Yes.


I:          But you were taught the same classes


D:        Yes.


I:          And same subject.


D:        They taught us English language.


I:          Uh-huh.


D:        And–and we couldn’t use–we couldn’t talk our Indian language.


I:          You were prohibited?


D:        Yes.


I:          Hm.


D:        Yet–yet as we were talking this afternoon, when I first met you, you know that the United States used the American Indians




to–to win the war when they even fought Europe–European or the–the Japanese people and–and the German people by using their language as a–as a code.


I:          Yep. So, and you were born in 1932, which is three later–three years later the great depression, how did you survive the Great Depression?




D:        Well, like I said, the government gave the Indians rations.


I:          Ration.


D:        Yes, they would come over and they would give us rations, and they would give us clothing, and they would give us what they called commodities.


I:          Uh-huh.


D:        and, like I was telling one guy, or one lady that was in the restaurant, she said Don every time you come in, she said you must like pancakes and that stuff and I said well,  you know what, when I was small that’s all we ate.




I says we–we ate pancakes and peanut butter. The government didn’t have enough syrup, so they give us the gallon of peanut butter and they gave us pancake mix. So my mother used to make pancakes and then she’d take the peanut butter and put it on like butter and then she’d roll it up and that was our sandwich that’s what we ate.


I:          Were you angry about this being incompetent called being incompetent?


D:        Well, not really




because we did–we never–we never got a ch–we were and when I was growing up we never had a change to live off the reservation.  We were there even though there was no gates holding us, but we didn’t know anybody and so we didn’t–


I:          But were you not angry about the way the federal government treating you guys?


D:        Well, today, you know, when you think back about it you–you–you–you get that feeling even–even today.  Today is–


I:          Yeah.


D:        2014 they still




discriminate against the American Indian.


I:          October 13, this Monday, was Columbus Day, right?


D:        Right.


I:          And some of the state declare that they not going to observe this Columbus Day, but rather its indigenous people’s day.


I:          Okay, in South Dakota, where I come from


D:        Mm-hmm.


I:          We’re the only state in the United States that passed a law, in–in




South Dakota declaring American Indian Day to replace Columbus Day.


I:          Mm-hmm.


D:        So we don’t–we don’t celebrate Columbus Day in South Dakota, we–we celebrate that day we celebrate American Indian Day.  And somebody told me that there was another state that just were talking about celebrating American Indian Day like South Dakota.


I:          Let me ask this question, you may not like this, but




the white came to the United States, the American Continent and hence the American Indians and now that’s why they observing the Columbus Day that because of this–of this massacre and–by white of the Indians and so there’s a what we call  the United States today. You a part of the United States.


D:        Right.




I:          What do you think about this?


D:        Well, in the first place, the Indian got together and they went to–to the Legislators and they say tell me why are you celebrating Columbus Day?


I:          Mm-hmm.


D:        We want to know why you white people are celebrating Columbus? And somebody told them they celebrating Columbus because he discovered this country. Well, Columbus didn’t discover this country. He would–didn’t even




set foot in this country. He–when he lived, back in 1492, he lived down–down by Puerto Rico and all over.


I:          Yeah.


D:        He wasn’t here, so why are you celebrating it? And that’s when the legislator says, you know what? You’re right so what do you want to celebrate? We want to celebrate American Indian Day.


I:          Mm-hmm.


D:        Make it American–because we were here first.


I:          Yep.


D:        You–you slaughtered all our food, you slaughtered our buffalo and–and you–you–you denied us this and you denied us that.




And you discriminated against us. Today, there’s still big discrimination in the United States against the American Indian.


I:          Mm-hmm.


D:        Even–let–let me tell you, as the national commander, I’ve been trying to get–even though we, the American Indians, served at the highest percentage of all ethnic groups, per capita wise, in every conflict and battle that ever occurred since the coming of the white peoples here.  Now,




two of the congressional people came to me when I was in Washington and serving on the board at the VA. And they says Mr. Loudner, we’d like to ask you a question. And I said–I said I’m open to any kind of question, you know, I’ll–I’ll answer to you the best of my knowledge. And they said we need you to form a veteran’s organization for your people. We have the–all the veterans organizations




such as American legion, the disabled veterans, the veterans of foreign wars, they call come into congress at the–at the firs part of the year, like at the end of January, February and they report to congress the issues, concerns and needs of their members, but when we ask them how about the Indian veteran? They say we got some in our organization




but we don’t know nothing about them. So we–you need to form one, help get one formed so you can come in, so you can testify to us what your issues, concerns and needs are as American Indians.

I:          Who are the congressman?


D:        All of the congressman in Washington.


I:          Okay.


D:        And–and–and so–so we formed our own group that’s–I gave you my card, I’m the national commander of all the American Indians in the whole United States–all 50 tribes–states.




Yet, when we introduced a bill back in 2003, to give us a charter,


I:          Mm-hmm.


D:        like the VFW has, the Legion has, Disabled vets have, the Amvets have, all of the organizations they got all kinds of–they got all kinds of organizations with charters, but congress denies us of that charter. We still don’t have that charter. It passes the United States Senate but then when it goes to the house




they will not give it to us because when we first went after it they said no, there’s too many charters. And when–so we cut it off we’re not gonna give no more charters away, they told us that in 2003 and 2004 and you–you know that since that time, they still won’t give it to us because they said they’re not gonna give no more charters, yet they have given out charters




because the–the conference you’re here today at, we had a bill in at the House of Representatives and the judiciary committee requesting a charter, the Senate already passed it unanimous. Wasn’t a descending vote.  Got to the house they–they–they and the judiciary chairman told us that they–they were not going to give anymore. Yet, since then, they gave the Korean War Veterans that you see here




today at their conference, they gave them a charter. I’m a–I’m a Korean War veteran, so I can belong to them. But they won’t give me a charter for our American Indians. They gave the–the MOA–they called MOA the Military Officers Association, they gave them a charter.  Our charter is still there.  And they gave those two ahead of us. And so when I went up there and I said why you did give the Korean Veterans a charter? Why did you give the MOA Association?




I said I’m–I’m a Korean War veteran I said and I’m also a retired Army officer.  So, I said so I can qualify for both of them but all of the people that I represent cant, because they’re not an officer. So, we need a charter. That–back–bad in 2005 and ’04, ’05, ’06, ’07, ’08 on up to today and we still don’t–don’t have it. We still don’t have a charter.  To me,




that’s discriminating against us.


I:          Yeah.


D:        And we should, we should be getting the veterans, other veterans organizations that have a charter to come with us and march on Washington, if that’s what it takes. Or if it takes the national news people to come out and say why don’t–why are you not giving the American Indians, who served in every conflict and more since they came to this country at the highest percentage of all ethnic groups




in the United States per capital, yet you won’t give them the same equal rights as–as they.  It don’t cost you no money, it’s free. They don’t get nothing for having a charter.  All it gives them is a chance to come in and present their issues, concerns and needs to.


I:          What is your plan to make it happening?


D:        You know what? I’m getting old and, you know, I’m getting discussed.


I:          Yeah.


D:        you know, it’s like I told you we finally–we finally got a chance to present




The wreath in Washington and I think that was a big accomplishment for us.


I:          We’ll talk about that later, off the record, okay?


D:        Okay.


I:          So, when did you volunteer, enlist to the military?


D:        I–I volunteered to go into the military in 1950. August 1st of 1950.




I:          Why?


D:        Why? Because my grand–our grandfather said it’s a tradition of the American Indian to serve their country in time of need. And you–your generation, it’s your turn now.  So, that’s when I told you, we had 24 of our cousins from my family from–who were all cousins, we all volunteered and went into the service.




I:          Did you enlist to the Army?


D:        yes, I went–I was in the Army, yes.


I:          Mm-hmm. And where did you–where did you go to receive the basic training?


D:        At fort–at–at the time it was called Camp Carson, in Colorado.


I:          Camp Carson?


D:        Yes. C–C–


I:          C-A-R-S-O-N?


D:        S-O-N, yes.


I:          In Colorado?


D:        Yes, in co–c–c– Colorado Springs, Colorado.


I:          What kind of basic training?


D:        We went to–it was like




everybody else that goes in the military. They taught us how to march, and they taught us how to do about faces and to rear marches, and learn how to shoot your rifles and everything and–


I:          For how long?


D:        Well, it was for 14 weeks. I went for 14 weeks. And when I went in there, my–they–they called me Don and when–when–when I got out of my basic training, they called me tomahawk.


I:          [laughing]


D:        Because I earned that




name because when we went to practice throwing hand grenades all the–all the non-Indians couldn’t–couldn’t throw the hand grenades in that tire they had out there.  And so they said okay, Don, your turn. So I got that–I got–they got this practice grenade and I said what I gotta do, and he said throw it in the middle of that tire, throw it in that tire they had–they had a rubber tire over there. So I picked it up and I threw it and it went right in the middle of it.


I:          Wow.


D:        And so then that–they give




Me another one and I threw it–three of them.  So this instructor there he said how come you can make it and these other people not one of them make it in that tire. I said it’s–it’s jus part of our blood. I said that’s just like throwing a tomahawk at you people.


I:          [laughing]


D:        And that’s how they gave me that name.

I:          How many Indian Americans were in that basic training camp?


D:        In that basic training camp? There was– just in my unit I was–there was two of us.  Two.




I:          Were there any discrimination at that camp?


D:        Yes.


I:          What?


D:        What–what kind of discrimination?
I:          Yeah.


D:        Well, they took in a lot of the Indians they–they–they put them in separate units.  And when we were–we were in a convoy–I was in a military unit we was struggling trucks and Jeeps and stuff to beef up some of the units that was going to go to Korea.





we had to go from one camp to another to get it.  We–when we all left in the bus we stopped in–in one state when we was going we went in to eat and they–the guys all went in this one café. There was over 120 of us went in this café and when the time come, this guy come up to me and he said, I’m sorry you can’t–you can’t be in here.  He said that to me–and I was the only Indian in the outfit. You can’t be in here. And I said what do you mean I can’t be in here? He said you’re American Indian




Ain’t you? And I said yes, and I’m proud of it.  Why? Why can’t I be in here? He said read the sign on that door, no Indians allowed in this café.


I:          Wow.


D:        So, I called–I called my company commander that was taking this up there and I told him and our first sergeant, I said I gotta leave but when you come out could you bring me a sandwich? He said what do you mean you can’t be here? I said that guy standing over there, he just told me to go read this–




read this the–the sheet on the door it says no American Indians allowed in here. So, they went and ask him and he says yep, that’s our policy he can’t be in here. So, the first sergeant blew his whistle and the company commander said everybody fall in outside the café, even though you haven’t eat fall in we’re going someplace else. If Don can’t eat in here, we can’t eat in here either. And we went to another place and he went in there, came out




and he said they’ll feed you in here, we went in there to eat breakfast and away we went to go to the camp.


I:          You were the only Indian?


D:        I was the only Indian we went– going on that trip.


I:          Oh, what a shame.


D:        and then–then see–and then the American Indians another thing, you know, that American Indians did.  Even though they fought in World War I when they wasn’t citizens of the United States we could not buy–we were not allowed or could buy liquor until 1953, when they made the American Indians a full citizens of our own country. That discrimination still goes on today in a lot of things.


I:          Unbelievable. So, what was your specialty? Just basic infantry or?


D:        I was in the infantry, yes, and–but–they told us that when the–they said because you’re the third of the family




you can’t go into Korea, you can’t step foot in Korea because you’ve got other family members. We–we gotta save somebody from out of your family and you’re the–you’re the smallest and the other two said you’re–you’re the one they want to keep out. So, I was trained to do something else, which like I told you I can’t discuss right now, because they said if they found out they’ll be–they’ll be sought I would be a sought after person to try to find out




how to do certain things that they still hold secret within the military organizations. They told me, they said, anybody ask you what you’ve done. Tell them you’re the professional KP man.  You–you–you wash the dishes, peel potatoes and stuff. But they don’t need to know what you do, just them–them you served your country, so that’s what I tell them, I served my country.


I:          So, so, tell me about after 14 basic training camp training where did you go to the what?




D:        they–they–I was–I was–they was–I can’t remember what– it was something like 30–32 people that was selected to go in combinations and out of the 33 there was only about 4 or 5 of us that passed. I was one of them passed.


I:          Mm-hmm.


D:        And I served in the communications in the–in the military.


I:          How long did you get the training there?


D:        I wasn’t in Fort Carson




they sent me into New Jersey to–to take that training stuff.


I:          Mm-hmm.


D:        And that’s what I can’t discuss right now, what–


I:          Yeah.  So, what happened to you then?


D:        Well, then after we got trained and everything I was–I was–I was one of the instructors that–that–that taught–that taught when they taught me to teach. I went out and trained the other people that was–




That was–it was a new system so I was one of them that went out and trained people


I:          Where?


D:        the new system.  All over. Wherever they sent us. I was up in Alaska and the Lucien islands and–

I:          So you were dealing with the code–the–the inscription right? The inscription?


D:        [nodding yes]


I:          So, where did you go? What was the first




base that you were assigned to?


D:        I–I can’t discuss it.


I:          Even not the names of the base?


D:        No, because they–they–they–they just told me they can’t because even today they said that it’s a code that hasn’t been broken yet so they don’t want us to discuss it so I said… I still carry–carry my top secrecy and so even though I’m retired after 33 years.


I:          Mm-hmm.  So did you–




D:        I did-I did later on, I got into–I was up in–ended up into Japan for a while and stuff.


I:          Mm-hmm. So–


D:        But I went up to the Lucien Islands and Alaska and in –in–in the United States we trained some people.


I:          Mm-hmm.


D:        But I wasn’t the only one, so.


I:          So, have you–had you been in Korea?


D:        I was there later on, yes.


I:          Later on when?


D:        After the war, after the war.




I:          Can you say what year?


D:        Maybe I better not, but it–it–it was right after the war and stuff.


I:          Okay. So, you did the same thing in–in Korea too?


D:        A lot–most of them, they were all trained.


I:          Hm.


D:        I mean they was–they came through the system in the United States.


I:          Uh-huh.






D:        But to me–to me I think it’s wrong to–to not recognize anybody that served in time of need, because they had no selection were they able to go. Like our veterans organizations, they say because–because you didn’t serve during–in directly in the battle fields and stuff you can’t belong to us because




you more or less said we were not recognized as–as veterans.


I:          No, no, no, no, no.


D:        So I said no, we didn’t have no choice. Nobody had any choice. I said when we went in, the 24 cousins, and I was one of them, they said okay, you’re going to go in the Army, you’re going to go in the Air Force, you’re going to go in the Marines, you’re going to go in the Coast Guard, you’re going– my brother was in the CB’s. And you’re going to go in–in–in this and that and they sent us all over. We didn’t have no choice.




I:          Right, yeah, you, it doesn’t–I mean officially the definition of Korean War veterans by the federal government is the U.S. Soldier who served during the Korean War era.


D:        Yeah, time–time of the war, yeah.


I:          Yeah. And it’s from 19–June 25th of 1952, January 31st of 1955.  Did– did you know that?


D:        Mm-hmm.


I:          Yep, so.


D:        It was–it was ’53 originally and then–


I:          Originally, yes.




armistice cease fire was signed on July 27 of 1953.


D:        Mm-hmm.


I:          But federal government extended the period.


D:        To ’55.


I:          Yeah, January 31st of ’55.  So you are Korean War veteran and you were there after the war so, you know.  And you know there are many ways that the soldiers served for their countries during the war. So, you know, you did it and you taught this code secret




Packaging communications.


D:        But, I think–I think–well I almost said something, but I think they were kind of  undecided because they–they American Indians were used as code talkers, back in World War I and World War II, and I think they kind of had that in mind during the Korean War, but it–it went so fast that I think they




just decided that they’d come up with this other program that they had to use and this and that, so.


I:          Did you–did you know anything about Korea?


D:        No.


I:          Before the Korean War broke out?


D:        Nope. I didn’t–I–I didn’t even leave my reservation til, like I said we were very, very poor. We didn’t even know what a car was like. We had just–we was basically walked,




I mean, we walked all the time. Both my mother and father both worked hard during when we –in order to help provide clothes for our family. And we had one pair of shoes maybe and jacket. The government give us rations to eat and even–even a little money.  When I grow up too, one of the things I did was I used to catch fish. I’d set the lines overnight in–in the river and the




fish I caught I–before I went to school.  I’d skin them and my mother’d gut them out and everything and we sold that fish to the white teachers and employees that worked on the reservation so we can buy extra food for our family.


I:          What fish?


D:        Catfish, you know?


I:          Catfish, yeah.


D:        Yes, yes. And we–


I:          I love trout fishing.

D:        Yeah, well my dad was an avid fisher.




But I–I–I just couldn’t do it–if I went fishing with him if I didn’t get–if a fish didn’t bite my pole


I:          Uh-huh.


D:        in about the first 10 or 15 minutes, I’d–I’d just say there’s no fish here and I’d quit. And he’d stand there casting that fly fish–fly pole and catch–and I says boy you’ve got more patience than I do. [laughing]


I:          [laughing] so, have you been back to Korea?




D:        No, I haven’t had a chance to. They elected me to national commander and I’ve been trying to organize them. I’ve traveled all over. In fact, I just came back from Arizona, and New Mexico and California, before I came out here.


I:          Mm-hmm.


D:        Because–and I’m trying to tell them we need you guys to–to belong to us.  Because you know we’re–we’re doing the work to try to get you the benefits and the equal–equally recognized




And without your membership with us, we can’t count the members that we truly have now, you know. As–as–as military people. In fact, in fact I was told in Washington, by certain people that I’m not going to say either, but they said you know what, we have to start looking at and maybe another name for the people that serve in the military because




a veteran, too many people are saying they’re veterans and they’re–they never had a day in service.  You’ve got veteran basketball players, you’ve got veteran football players, baseball players, congressional people are calling themselves veterans, legislators, congressional people and so people just don’t recognize when you talk about veterans they don’t know whether you’re talking about you–in a–in a time of war or what they just they’re




so we need to maybe go back. And I said well, you know, you gotta look at the American Indian. Before you was even here, we were warriors. I says, I had a little sign when I worked for the federal government above my desk and above it, that little sign, this friend of mine painted–hand painted on it– it said before white men discovered this country, Indians were running it. No taxes, no debts,




women did all the work, which they did.  The–the men went out and hunted and brought the game in, the women cooked it and kept it.  And they set up the teepees whenever they moved and they did most of– all of the work, that’s what they called work.  And then on the bottom part of this thing it says, white men thought they could improve on a system like this, and look what we–look what we have.  We’re thousands–millions of dollars into debt now, so.




I:          Absolutely agree with you.


D:        But we’re proud. We’re proud to serve. We’re proud to be called the–


[End of Recorded Material]