Central Texans might be able to help an Oklahoma man earn a Congressional Medal of Honor.
Boys originally in the eighth-grade class of Nellie Garone, who teaches at Mannsville Elementary in Mannsville, Okla., are lobbying for a World War I soldier named Joseph Oklahombi, a Choctaw Code Talker also known as Oklahoma’s most-decorated hero from that conflict.
His outfit was a Texas/Oklahoma National Guard Unit — the 36th Division — the Arrowheads, companies A-E. Many of them signed up here in Austin. On Oct. 8, 1918, he and 23 other soldiers killed some 79 Germans and captured 171 more at St. Etienne, France.
“We would like to contact the families of his company mates to see if they might have any information that we might use in our application,” Garone writes. “We are looking for living relatives of the men who also received a Croix de Guerre with Oklahombi for actions on Oct. 8-10 at St. Etienne.”
Some the Texans whose families they are seeking: Cpl. Walter L. Bergstrom, Pvt. George F. Elliot, Sgt. Bud Henry, Sgt. Charles H. Powell, Sgt. William E. Simpson, Cpl. Brosig T. Wasson and Cpl. Charles F. Jennings.
Three years ago, Garone ran across Oklahombi’s name and thought his story would make an interesting project for National History Day. Her students have since made several presentations to key leaders.
“The boys are now going into 10th grade,” Garone says. “They are still involved. We added our eighth-graders this year to help with the project.”
Contact: Mannsville School, P.O. Box 68, Mannsville, Oklahoma 73447 or email mannsvillenhd@gmail.
You can’t understand New Austin without delving into Old Austin. One digital avenue for that quest is Austin Found, a series of historic images of Austin and Texas published at statesman.com/austinfound. We’ll share samples here regularly.