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Indian Prisoners of War Released

Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Military,Native American | No Comments

Mrs. Frank Paisano Jr.
Mrs. Frank Paisano Jr. accepts the Air Medal awarded to her husband, a prisoner of war in Germany.

Many Indians reported as prisoners of war have now been released and have come home again. Lt. Frank Paisano, Jr., a prisoner of the Germans, has returned to Laguna Pueblo. During his absence he was awarded the Air Medal, which his wife accepted in his name. Omar Schoenborn, Chippewa, once reported dead, was one of 83 men who escaped death when the prison ship carrying them to Japan was sunk off Leyte. He managed to swim ashore and to hide from the Japanese until the arrival of the American forces. Gilmore C. Daniels, Osage, who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force early in the war, spent nearly four years in a German prison camp before the advancing armies released him. Another Osage, Major Edward E. Tinker, a nephew of General Clarence Tinker, was taken prisoner when he crashed in Bulgaria, and was freed by the Russian advance.

Among the American prisoners released by the 6th Ranger Battalion from Cabanatuan Prison in the Philippines on January 30, 1945, was Major Caryl L. Picotte, Sioux-Omaha, formerly of Nebraska, but now stationed in Oakland, California.

Major Picotte was called to active duty with the Air Corps in September 1941, and sent to the Philippines. On his arrival in Manila he was assigned to duty as Associate Engineering Officer at the Philippine Air Depot, Nichols Field.

Major Picotte was called to active duty with the Air Corps in September 1941, and sent to the Philippines. On his arrival in Manila he was assigned to duty as Associate Engineering Officer at the Philippine Air Depot, Nichols Field.

S-Sgt. John Lee Redeagle
S-Sgt. John Lee Redeagle, Quapaw and wife
Released from a German Prison Camp

After the Japanese air attack on Nichols Field, December 8, 1941, when most of the serviceable American aircraft were destroyed, Major Picotte assisted in the organization of a provisional Air Corps regiment, which fought as Infantry from January 1, 1942, until the capitulation of Bataan on April 9th of that year. He was in the famous Death March from Bataan to the first American prisoner-of-war camp at O’Donnell, covering 80 miles in three days with on meal of rice. In June he was moved to Cabanatuan, where he remained until released by the Rangers two and a half years later. During the last days before the fall of Bataan, he was recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star.

Major Picotte comes of a distinguished Indian family. His grandfather was Joseph LaFlesche (Iron Eyes), the last chief of the Omaha tribe. His mother, Susan LaFlesche Picotte, was the first Indian woman physician and is remembered with veneration for her life of unselfish service to both Indians and Whites. The late Francis LaFlesche, distinguished ethnologist, was his uncle, and Suzette LaFlesch Tibbles, (Bright Eyes), who lectured throughout the civilized world and was the most famous Indian woman of the 1880’s and 1890’s was his aunt. Major Picotte reported that there were more than 300 Indians on Bataan and Corregidor. While in the prison camps he met and talked with many from all sections of the country. He added, “Their battle record, individually and as a whole, left nothing to be desired.”

Not all the news of the prisoners of was is good. Some did not survive the rigors and the mistreatment in the camps, and some were lost in the torpedoing of several ships carrying prisoners of war from the Philippines to Japan. Others perished when another ship was bombed and sunk in Subic Bay. It is hoped that, as time goes on, more will be found alive and that the lists of released prisoners will grow.


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