Honoring D-Day’s Unsung Heroes Tribal Citizens Who Changed History

Honoring D-Day’s Unsung Heroes Tribal Citizens Who Changed History

As we commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of those who fought on D-Day, it is important to recognize the contributions of Indigenous soldiers who played crucial roles in this historic event. Native Americans have a long and proud tradition of military service, and their involvement in World War II is a testament to their courage and dedication. Today, we honor three remarkable American Indian heroes who were part of the D-Day invasion.

According to Dutch Anthropologist Dr. Harald E.L. Prins, 175 Native Americans landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day—but only 55 have been identified.

These brave warriors were part of a larger contingent of Indigenous soldiers who served with distinction in World War II. Their involvement in D-Day and other key battles demonstrated their unwavering commitment to defending freedom and their homeland. This collective contribution underscores the significant and often overlooked role that Indigenous soldiers played in the success of the Allied forces.

Charles Norman Shay, an enrolled citizen of the Penobscot tribe from Maine, served as a medic in the 1st Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. On June 6, 1944, Shay landed on Omaha Beach, where he displayed extraordinary bravery under fire. Amidst the chaos and carnage, he tirelessly treated wounded soldiers, saving many lives. For his gallant actions, Shay was awarded the Silver Star. His heroism on D-Day is a powerful reminder of the critical role that medics played in the success of the invasion. Read more about Charles Norman Shay here.

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These examples—Charles Norman Shay and the 175 Native Americans and Canadian First Nation citizens—represent the profound contributions of Native Americans to the success of D-Day. Their courage, dedication, and sacrifice are an enduring legacy, reminding us of the vital role that American Indians have played in our nation’s history. As we remember D-Day, let us also honor the bravery of these and other Native American heroes who fought for freedom and justice.

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