Heroism Above And Beyond the Call Of Duty

Older Ernest Childers relaxing in a large chair

Ernest Childers

In the 20th century, five American Indian Soldiers have been among those receiving the United States' highest military honor: the Medal of Honor. Given for military heroism "above and beyond the call of duty," these distinguished warriors displayed extraordinary bravery in the face of their enemy. Two of these men sacrificed their lives.

A Native American Creek from Oklahoma, and a first lieutenant with the 45th Infantry Division, Childers received the Medal of Honor for heroic action in 1943 when, up against machine gun fire, he and eight men charged the enemy. Although suffering a broken foot in the assault, Childers ordered covering fire and advanced up the hill, single-handedly killing two snipers, silencing two machine gun nests, and capturing an enemy mortar observer. Childers, who retired in 1965 at Fort Still, Okla., first arrived at Fort Drum - then called Pine Camp - on Nov. 8, 1942, to train before going overseas.

Second Lieutenant Ernest Childers

CITATION:

Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 45th Infantry Division. Place and date: At Oliveto, Italy, 22 September 1943. Entered service at: Tulsa, Okla. Birth: Broken Arrow, Okla. G.O. No.: 30, 8 April 1944. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action on 22 September 1943, at Oliveto, Italy. Although 2d Lt. Childers previously had just suffered a fractured instep he, with 8 enlisted men, advanced up a hill toward enemy machinegun nests. The group advanced to a rock wall overlooking a cornfield and 2d Lt. Childers ordered a base of fire laid across the field so that he could advance. When he was fired upon by 2 enemy snipers from a nearby house he killed both of them. He moved behind the machinegun nests and killed all occupants of the nearer one. He continued toward the second one and threw rocks into it. When the 2 occupants of the nest raised up, he shot 1. The other was killed by 1 of the 8 enlisted men. 2d Lt. Childers continued his advance toward a house farther up the hill, and single-handed, captured an enemy mortar observer. The exceptional leadership, initiative, calmness under fire, and conspicuous gallantry displayed by 2d Lt. Childers were an inspiration to his men.