The Cold War began shortly after World War II and lasted until the early 1990s. Overall, this represented the period when the Untied States and the Soviet Union stared each other in the eye and recognized that the use of their vast nuclear arsenals could only bring destruction on themselves. As a result, this was a nearly half century of war by proxy - the use of others to achieve the nations aims. The Cubans fought in Africa trying to bring communuism while the US supported the Afghans against the invasion by the Russians. On several occassions, however, the US did get drawn into fights over limited objectives. Two of the major ones were the Korean War (1950-1953) and the Vietnam War (1962-1975) - and Pawnee was there.

On 25 June 1950, the North Koreans crossed the 38th Parallel, and attacked the South Koreans. Almost immediately, President Truman mobilized parts of the National Guard including the 45th Infantry Division of Oklahoma and Pawnee's Company B, 279th Infatnry Regiment. After training, the division moved to Korea and Company B came ashore on 10 December 1951. However, by April of 1952, a phase out of the Guardsmen began as they were replaced by regular army troops. By June 6, 1952, the last Guardsman rotated from Korea. In this short period, the 279th Regiment had seen its share of fighting, and some of the boys from Pawnee did not come home:


Lynn Beshears
J.B. Carter
Fred Lang, Jr.
Lester Lemaster

Unlike past wars, the Vietnam War was fought primarily with the Regular Army. Very few National Guard units were called up. However, many of the sons of Pawnee joined the fight and participated in battles ranging from the Ia Drang, to Dak To, to the DMZ and Tet '68. Pawnee was a very supportive community throughout the war, and honored its heroes when they returned. Six did not return:


Darrell W. Cowan
Elmer E. Fields
Thomas L. Little Sun
John P. Marlow
Michael H. Thomas
James H. Tucker

At the end of the Cold War, the great war machine that had been designed to face the Soviets had a final opportunity to be used when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Over 500,000 men and women of the armed forces were deployed to Saudi Arabia to force Iraq out of their captured territory. Thankfully, no Pawnee residents payed the ultimate price in this short conflict, but one, Captain Craig Berryhill, USMC, of Cleveland, Oklahoma in eastern Pawnee County, was shot down on January 18, 1991. He remained a captive for 37 days, and was hailed as a hero for his ordeal and his symbol of sacrifice.

Pawnee can be justly proud of its military history. While short, the generations of men and women who pioneered the state and made it great were always ready to answer the call. The nation can be assured that if the bugle sounds, Pawnee will be there once again.

In the event that Joel Orcutt cannot be reached, please e-mail Robert Fender

Copyright 2002 by Robert Gale Fender
LAST_MODIFIED: 21 April 2002