This Native American Earned the Medal of Honor for Holding Off a Chinese Attack in Korea

Mitchell Red Cloud Jr
Medal of Honor recipient Mitchell Red Cloud Jr. is profiled in a graphic novel from AUSA. (AUSA)

Mitchell Red Cloud Jr. came from a long and proud tradition of Native American service in the U.S. military. Red Cloud, who served in both World War II and Korea, received one of the 29 Medals of Honor that have been awarded to Native Americans "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty, in actual combat against an armed enemy force."

He served in the Marine Corps during World War II, left the service after the war but enlisted in the U.S. Army as an infantryman in 1948. Sent to fight in Korea, he was killed in action during a Chinese assault in 1950 at age 25 and received a posthumous Medal of Honor for his actions.

Mitchell Red Cloud Medal of Honor

Now, Red Cloud's story is being told in "Medal of Honor: Mitchell Red Cloud Jr.," the latest issue of the Association of the United States Army's graphic novel series. You can view or download a free copy at

Red Cloud's World War II story is notable on its own. The Wisconsin native was a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation. Born in 1925, he dropped out of high school to join the Marine Corps. He was injured during the invasion of Guadalcanal as a Marine Raider.

His injuries forced him back stateside for recovery and should have qualified him for a medical discharge, but Red Cloud managed to get back to the Pacific with the 6th Marine Division, where he participated in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. He was shot in that battle and awarded a Purple Heart.

Back home after the war, Red Cloud decided he missed military life and enlisted in the Army in 1948. Sent to Korea in 1950 with the 19th Infantry, 24th Infantry Division, he was among the first U.S. troops on the ground in the conflict.

A corporal, he was on the tip of the spear, leading his men as American troops rapidly pushed north in the summer of 1950. The Chinese government, feeling threatened by U.S. forces so close to its border, sent 500,000 Chinese soldiers to the front in hopes of slowing the American advance.

On Nov. 5, 1950, Red Cloud was manning a forward observation at the Chongchon River. He was the first to notice an impending Chinese attack and alerted his men, foiling the enemy's element of surprise. Injured, he ordered his men to tie him to a tree, where he held off enemy troops long enough for his unit to repel the attack despite being shot eight times.

Red Cloud didn't survive the battle. His men located his body the next day, surrounded by the bodies of Chinese soldiers that he had killed as he slowed the attack. Gen. Omar Bradley presented Red Cloud's mother with his Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the Pentagon in April 1951.

We talk about World War II and Vietnam all the time but often fail to recognize the sacrifices of those who served in Korea. The Medal of Honor was awarded to 146 men for their actions in the Korean War. Red Cloud died only 3 1/2 months after the first Medal of Honor action in Korea, but he was already the 32nd recipient during the conflict; 27 of those were awarded posthumously.

In its current series, AUSA has released a graphic novel about Jacob Parrott, the Union Army soldier who was the first Medal of Honor recipient. It will publish two more Medal of Honor graphic novels this year, featuring Wild Bill Donovan, the World War I hero who later founded the World War II Office of Strategic Services, and Roger Donlon, the first recipient from the Vietnam War and the first Special Forces recipient.

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