Wowaditaka: First Sioux Awarded Medal of Honor
Wowaditaka, "to not be afraid of anything," is how the fellow soldiers of the North Dakota 164th Infantry Regiment who fought alongside Master Sgt. Woodrow Wilson Keeble remember him during the battles of Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Leyte, Cebu, and Mindanao in World War II.
Keeble is one of the most decorated Soldiers in North Dakota history. A veteran of World War II and the Korean War, he was born in 1917 in Waubay, S.D., on the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Reservation, which extended into North Dakota.
Armed with grenades and his Browning Automatic Rifle, Keeble crawled to an area 50 yards from the ridgeline, flanked the left pillbox and used grenades and rifle fire to eliminate it, according to Sagami. After returning to the point where 1st Platoon held the company's first line of defense, Keeble worked his way to the opposite side of the ridgeline and took out the right pillbox with grenades. "Then without hesitation, he lobbed a grenade into the back entrance of the middle pillbox and with additional rifle fire eliminated it," Sagami added.
Woodrow Wilson Keeble will join select company March 3 at the White House. It was for heroism in battle in the Korean War that the soldiers he led - and saved - were convinced he deserved the Medal of Honor.
Woodrow Wilson Keeble joins five other Native American Indians who also are Medal of Honor recipients. These include Medal of Honor awardees Jack Montgomery, a Cherokee; Ernest Childers, a Creek; Van Barfoot, a Choctaw; Mitchell Red Cloud Jr., a Winnebago; and Charles George, a Cherokee.
The Sioux tradition lives on in North America and when one hears the the Sioux word "wowaditaka," we can all think of Master Sgt. Woodrow Wilson Keeble and his unselfish service to his country.