Billy Walkabout: True hero

billy-walkabout-photo-05ON THIS DATE in 1968 (November 20), eighteen-year-old Billy Walkabout treated wounded comrades and returned fire while under attack behind enemy lines during the Vietnam War.

A Cherokee of the Blue Holley Clan, Walkabout was on an assassination mission with 12 other U.S. soldiers in a region southwest of Hue when the enemy launched fire on them. The Army Ranger sergeant received serious wounds yet assisted other soldiers and helped them onto evacuation helicopters.


Walkabout is believed to be the most decorated Native American soldier of the Vietnam War. He received the Distinguished Service Cross, five awards of the Silver Star, five awards of the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart.

In 1986 he told the Associated Press, “War is not hell. It’s worse.”

Walkabout died at age fifty-seven in 2007. His family said he had medical complications related to his exposure to the Agent Orange defoliant used during the war.

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