Lt. Col. Ernest Childers
Born: February 1, 1918, at Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Education: Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; Chilocco Indian School
Service Record: Enlisted in the Oklahoma National Guard 1937 as a Private; promoted to First Sergeant, Company 'C,' 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division. Took part in Allied assaults on Sicily and Salerno, 1943, and Anzio, 1944, receiving battlefield appointment to 2 Lt. Remained in Army after war, retiring 1965 as Lt. Col.
Awards: Medal of Honor, Bronze Star Purple Heart, Italian Cross of Valor, Combat Infantryman's Badge, and the first Oklahoma Distinguished Service Medal ever awarded. Lt. Col. Childers was the first Native American to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor in World War II.
For action on September 22, 1943, Ernest Childers received the Medal of Honor. The Citation reads:
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 Second Lt. Childers previously had just suffered a fractured instep, he, with eight enlisted men, advanced up a hill toward enemy machine gun nests. The group advanced to a rock wall overlooking a cornfield and Second Lt. Childers ordered a base of fire laid across the field so that he could advance.
When he was fired upon by two enemy snipers from a nearby house, he killed both of them. He moved behind the machine gun nests and killed all occupants of the nearer one. He continued toward the second one and threw rocks into it. When the two occupants of the nest raised up, he shot one. The other was killed by one of the eight enlisted men.
Second Lt. Childers continued his advance toward a house farther up the hill and single-handedly captured an enemy mortar observer. The exceptional leadership, initiative calmness under fire, and conspicuous gallantry displayed by Second Lt. Childers were an inspiration to his men.
The Medal of Honor was presented to Ernest on April 12, 1944, by Gen. Jacob L. Devers, Allied Deputy Commander, Mediterranean Theater.