EVERYDAY IS MEMORIAL DAY: Today is Sgt. Mitchell Red Cloud, Jr.

EVERYDAY IS MEMORIAL DAY when one reaches my age and this morning, with things heating up even more on the Korean Peninsula, my thoughts turned to U.S. Army Sergeant Mitchell Red Cloud, Jr., a posthumous Medal of Honor recipient, for whom Camp Red Cloud near the Korean DMZ is named. You won’t hear much about Sgt. Red Cloud from the Steve Bannon-alt-right-white nationalist crowd but every soldier in the Second Infantry Division stationed along the DMZ in Korea knows who he was.

Sgt. Mitchell Red Cloud, Jr. Camp Red Cloud is named in his honor.

A Winnebago Native-American from Wisconsin, in 1941, at the age of 16, Red Cloud enlisted in the U.S. Marines and served with Carlson’s Raiders during the Battle of Guadalcanal and the famous 28-day “Long Patrol” during which the unit went deep into the jungle behind Japanese lines with the aim of destroying enemy artillery. A mission during which Red Cloud lost 75 pounds and was ravaged by tropical diseases. After hospitalization, he returned to the front lines and was shot in the shoulder during the invasion of Okinawa. Red Cloud was discharged from the Marines in December, 1945 with the rank of sergeant.

After the war, he spent time researching the life of the Sauk Native-American leader Black Hawk. In 1948 he reenlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the 24th Infantry Division. With the outbreak of hostilities on the Korean Peninsula in 1950, the 24th was rushed into action and Sgt. Red Cloud fought in several major battles as the U.S. Army was being forced back to the southern edge of the peninsula.

On the night of Nov. 7, 1950, Red Cloud’s team was manning a listening post in front of his company HQ on Hill 123. During the night, Red Cloud spotted a mass of Chinese soldiers less than 100 feet away and began firing point blank on them with great accuracy. Shot twice in the chest, he continued to fire at the Chinese troops with his BAR rifle, killing many. Wounded six more times and unable to stand, he ordered one of his men to tie him to a tree so he could keep firing so the rest of the team could retreat.

The next morning, he was found dead, still tied to the tree, surrounded by the bodies of dozens of Chinese troops. He was credited with saving his company from being overrun and slaughtered and allowing his battalion to gain enough time to reinforce Hill 123 and stem the Chinese advance. In a ceremony at the Pentagon in April, 1951, General of the Army Omar Bradley awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously to Sgt. Red Cloud for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty” and “dauntless courage and gallant self-sacrifice.” The award was received by his mother.

Camp Red Cloud near the Korean DMZ: HQ of the U.S. Army’s Second Infantry Division

On Armed Forces Day in 1957, Camp Red Cloud was named after him. The 164 acre-base is on the northern edge of Uijeongbu and serves as the Headquarters of the 2nd Infantry Division. In 1999, the U.S. Navy commissioned the USNS Red Cloud in recognition of his actions. Sgt. Red Cloud was first interred in the UN cemetery in Korea and then reinterred in accordance to Ho-chunk Winnebago tribal custom at the Winnebago Mission in Wisconsin. In the 2013 documentary “Finnigan’s War” actor Mark Hamill narrates Red Cloud’s Medal of Honor citation.

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