Billy Walkabout died March 7, 2007. He
was the most decorated Native American soldier of the Vietnam War.
Billy, a full blood Cherokee, was living in Connecticut and lost his
last fight with Agent Orange complications. He was 57 yrs old. Billy,
an Airborne Ranger of the 101st, received a Distinguished Service
Cross, the second highest U.S. decoration for gallantry in combat, for
his actions during one such incident in November 1968. “ [After] a long
range reconnaissance patrol southwest of Hue… [Sergeant Walkabout’s
team] radioed for immediate helicopter extraction. When the extraction
helicopters arrived and the lead man begin moving toward the pick-up
zone, he was seriously wounded by hostile automatic weapons fire.
Sergeant Walkabout quickly rose to his feet and delivered steady
suppressive fire on the attackers while other team members pulled the
wounded man back to their ranks. Sergeant Walkabout then administrated
first aid to the soldier in preparation for medical evacuation. As the
man was being loaded onto the evacuation helicopter, enemy elements
again attacked the team. Maneuvering under heavy fire, Sergeant
positioned himself where the enemy were concentrating their assault and
placed continuous rifle fire on the adversary. A command detonated mine
ripped through friendly team, instantly killing three men and wounding
all the others." Although stunned and wounded by the blast, Sergeant
Walkabout rushed from man to man administering first aid, bandaging one
soldier’s severe chest wound reviving another soldier by heart massage.
He then coordinated gunship and tactical air strikes on the enemy’s
positions. When evacuation helicopters arrived again, he worked
single-handedly under fire to board his disabled comrades. Only when
the casualties had been evacuated and friendly reinforcements had
arrived, did he allow himself to be extracted.”
Billy Walkabout was a true American Hero! Years ago my sister gave me a paper that gave an account about the life of Billy Walkabout and how he struggled when he came back from Vietnam and I was struck then with the revelation, that it must have been like this for so many other Native American Vietnam Veterans too...not just me! I then wrote this song-poem called Like Billy Walkabout's Blues
This is Billy Walkabout's step-daughter site that honors him Autumn Rain Eyes.