D-Day:June 6, 1944
In the early morning darkness of June 6,1944 - D-Day: the day allied troops
carried out operation overlord, of the massive military invasion of Europe at
Normandy, France - two Coeur d' Alene Indians, Carl Sol Louie and Norbert Joseph
were present and accounted for.
U.S. army medic N. Joseph was one of more than 100,000 troops in an invasion
force of over 5,000 ships, boats and amphibious crafts - the largest number of
vessels ever assembled.
Coeur d' Alene Indian Carl Sol Louie(a.k.a. U.S. Army PVT. Charles K. Louie) was
there, in the
506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division. Sadly, Sol Louie was killed in mid-air
during the paratroopers' descent to behind enemy lines.
According to tribal elder Irene Lowley, her grandmother was offered a sealed
lead casket but was unsure if the casket truly contained her sons remains. So
As of today, Charles K. Louis, a direct descendent of Circling Raven, is listed
on the WWII Honor Roll and on the tablets of the missing at the Normandy
American Cemetery at St. Laurent-Mer, France. His status there is listed as
missing in action or buried at sea. The tablets say he died on D-Day and was
awarded the bronze star and a purple heart. On the list of WWII dead by state,
he is listed as being killed in action.
Another Indian, a Spokane, by the name of Calvin Garry who was schooled in
Plummer, also was a paratrooper in D-Day. Garry was shot during the drop, too,
but he lived a long life afterward to tell the story of how his fingers were
shot off that day right at that point where they held onto the straps of his
Felix S. Aripa was in the U.S. Navy and on board the USS Thompson when it
transported General Eisenhower and the other allied commanders to the beachhead
at Normandy on June 12, 1944
When Eisenhower saw Aripa, Aripa said he asked, "Aren't you an Indian?"
When Aripa confirmed to Eisenhower that he was, indeed, an Indian, he said
Eisenhower asked him,
"What the hell are you doing in the Navy? All the other Indians are in the
"There were a lot of good Indian soliders there," Aripa said. "I got to see all
the big shots in the second world war." In addition to Eisenhower, General
Marshall and Arnold, as well as Admiral King were also transported to Normandy
at the same time.
Before everything was said and done, Aripa survived having been wounded in
action. Also, in February, 1945 it was reported that Aripa was critically ill in
a New York hospital. While out of commission, it was reported that Aripa was
enjoying the world of sports at New York's Madison Square Garden.
In that same time period, PVT. Louis L. Isadore was wounded in action.
Later that fall, on November 21, 1944, the brother of Felix S. Aripa - Moses, or
mu'is - was killed in action at the Belgium border as allied troops moved inland
Gabriel Aripa, a nephew to Felix and Moses Aripa, was actually taken as a
prisoner of war and had to learn how to survive when he spent time in the big
German POW camp known famously from books, movies, and history as Stalag 17.
"There were cows that had to be brought in and Gabe went for the trips," Felix
Aripa said. "Because of that, the rest of the guys were starving but he had a
feast. He told us if he kept to himself and kept quite the Germans left him
alone. It's when the prisoners complained that they were mistreated. He also had
work, at wood cutting to keep him busy."
The Italian Alps
In World War II Marcus Nicodemus distinguished himself with his leadership, as
recognized by his superior in the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division As
sergeant, he was instrumental in leading his squad in special elite operations,
such as the battle for Mt. Belvedere, in the treacherous Italian Alps that were
strategic to allied advancement through secret paths into Germany. The 10th
Mountain Division specialized in winter warfare as ski solders in rugged
mountain terrain that involved skiing and climbing among sheer, rock-faced
mountain sides and sheer, vertical drops. He attended his division's 50 year
anniversary reunion in 1994 in the Italian Alps.
The Pacific Theater
Two more Coeur d'Alene Indians made the ultimate sacrifice in WWII, this time in
the Pacific theater of the war.
Private First Class Adolph Alphonse Alexie was killed in action in the South
Pacific. He was on Okinawa Island on April 6, 1945 and was buried in the 96th
Infantry Division Temporary Cemetery there.
Elmer Falcon died of wounds he received in combat on the island of Layte in the
Philippines. Falcon was the first husband of Margaret (Joseph) Stensgar, the
mother of current Coeur d'Alene Tribal chairman Ernest L. Stensgar.
The Details of other information of Coeur d' Alenes who served in WWII are a
little more difficult to elaborate upon in trying to avoid excluding anybody. A
newsletter published by Lawrence Nicodemus during the war called the DeSmet
Morning Star, offers some insight into more information.
Evidently, according to tribal language director Raymond Brinkman, Nicodemus
went with Donald George to enlist but Nicodemus wasn't accepted into the
service. Instead, Nicodemus opted to publish a newsletter to keep the Coeur
d'Alenes in the war connected with home.
Cpl. Donald George ended up as an assistant cook in the Marines. His brother,
PFC Oswald C. George, served in the North Africa campaign,and for at least 51
months in the Infantry. Oswald had pushed for a permanent monument to be erected
on the Coeur d' Alene Indian Reservation to honor the tribe's war dead. Donald
George made good on his first opportunity to visit Adolph Alexie's grave at
Okinawa to pay his proper respect.
The Seltice brothers, Herman and Pete were both there and in the army. Herman
"sqwarshn" Seltice was a medic who wrote home about his service in Germany. Pete
was at the Dungeons of LaHarvre.
The Aripa brothers, Lawrence and Henry were both there: Lawrence served in the
Navy and Henry served as a sergeant in the Army and was one of 900 survivors of
German bombers who attacked their mission of 2,500 while in troop ships in the
eastern Mediterranean Sea. Aripa served in North Africa and in China.
Celina (Garry) Iyall Goolsby was a corporal and was the first Coeur d' Alene
Indian woman to enlist in the armed forces.
The twin LaSarte brothers, Bernard "Happy" and Francis "Hookum" were in the
Sgt. Alexander J. Camille, son of Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Camille, was the first
local, full blooded Indian to be discharged from the Army after four years of
After being discharged, Sgt. Henry SiJohn had plans to continue his musical
PFC. Eugene A. Seyler of the 406th Infantry was awarded a bronze star for heroic
action in combat under intense enemy fire.
Also listed in the search for Coeur d' Alenes having served in WWII include: Sam
Peone Sr, Francis Adams, Herman Zachary, Luke Morrel, William "Bill" Ignace,
Hector Bazil, Leonard Joseph Stubby Ford, John Abraham Sr, John DeLorme, and
Anthony "Tony" Aripa.
Other names still missing
The above-referenced names were all I was able to come up with during a month of
research. I think it's probably pretty unlikely that there aren't other Coeur d'
Alenes who served in WWII, whose names I didn't come across or was unable to
uncover. If your family member's name and information belongs with this group of
information, I encourage you to submit that information to me and I will publish
Only those believed to be Coeur d' Alene were included
here, except the Spokane wounded on D-Day. Otherwise, the specifics of my own
father's WWII experiences would have been included. Don't feel overlooked.