Whenever we talk about the Native Americans and their participation during World War II, perhaps the first thing that comes up to our minds is the Navajo code talkers and their significant contributions to the war effort by using and sharing their language to create an undecipherable and complicated code, which is no doubt brilliant. However, they were not the only natives who put themselves in danger and helped the country during the crisis.
Here are some other brave Native American warriors of World War II.
Robert Arnold was born on January 21, 1923, the youngest son among the eight children, also the quiet one. The Arnold siblings grew up with another tribal family, the Sandaines, and lived together on a farm on Kelly Hill. Arnold decided to join the military when he turned 18 to help his family’s strenuous life, as there would be one less mouth to feed when he was away.
Arnold became a paratrooper and a member of the 82nd Airborne Division, an elite parachute infantry that was part of the Normandy Invasion, with a mission “to destroy vital German supply bridges, and capture causeways leading inland across the flooded areas behind the Normandy beaches where seaborne forces would land to gain control of roads and communications,”
Their division fought for 33 days straight without any relief, pushing them to their limits. As a result, thousands died either by being shot in the air while fighting or sometimes in isolation. All in all, 756 82nd were missing, 156 were killed, and 347 were wounded.
As for Arnold, he survived the D-Day Invasion. However, he died three months later, on July 3, from the injuries he sustained during the battle.
Could he be one of the Sandaines that Arnold grew up with in Kelly Hill? Who knows.
The Tribune attempted multiple times to reach several members of the Sandaine family, but they got nothing in return. As for Albert, he was born on March 3, 1921, and their family lived in the Boyds/Kelly Hill area. Albert was 19 when both of his parents died.
In November 1942, he enlisted in the military and became a medical technician called TEC5. He became part of the 351st infantry participating in the Fifth Army drive to help liberate Rome. The regiments fought for five months nonstop and were also the first to arrive in Italy.
Albert Sandaine was killed in Italy on September 25, 1944. He was just 23.
Broncheau did not participate in the Normandy Invasion, but it did not mean he didn’t play a vital role during the Second World War. He was from the Colville Reservation and was sent to war from one of the “repple-depples” or replacements depots, where they would replace individual soldiers who were lost in battle instead of replacing entire units. This helped in the logistics of the American military as they wouldn’t have to move a whole unit whenever someone was killed or wounded.
Broncheau’s fellow soldier, Don Burgett, talked about him in his book, “Seven Roads to Hell.” The two met after Broncheau was sent as a replacement for their unit in December 1944, just five months after the Normandy invasion. He remembered Broncheau as an eager guy for his first combat, excited to prove himself.
On December 19, 1944, they landed in a small town called Bastogne in France. This would be the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge, where Broncheau was one of the first soldiers to take the German army head first, fearless. As a result, he was severely wounded and was taken as a prisoner. However, due to the lack of facilities to properly deal with and treat his injuries, he soon died of his wounds on January 19, 1945.