Remembering Chief David Bald Eagle – WWII 82nd Airborne Veteran – An Extraordinary Life
David Bald Eagle’s life’s story reads like a chapter from the real-life version of the most interesting man in the world! From his role in the Oscar-winning movie Dances with Wolves to dancing with the legendary Marilyn Monroe; from playing semi-professional baseball in Minnesota to being a professional rodeo rider, Bald Eagle lived a life that would be extraordinary by all measures.
Born in 1919, it wasn’t until he was 5 years old that indigenous people were considered Americans. He grew up living with with his grandfather White Feather. It’s been documented that his other grandfather was a relative of Sitting Bull. It wasn’t until Bald Eagle was about to hit his teenage years where he learned to speak and write English (speaking only Lakota up to that point). Later in life he became a longtime representative of South Dakota’s Lakota people.
David Bald Eagle’s extraordinary life as an athlete, dancer, director, musician, story teller, humanitarian, cowboy, race car driver, professional rodeo rider, educator, Native American historian and more is well-documented (we highly recommend NPR’s story on David Bald Eagle), but did you know he also proudly served in the United States Army during World War II?
David William Bald Eagle (aka Chief Beautiful Bald Eagle) is another on a long list of Famous Veterans who are unique in the fact that they all wore a military uniform at one time or another in their lives!
During early adulthood, Bald Eagle enlisted in the Horse Calvary. After a few years, he was given a motorcycle and became a messenger. He was discharged on December 7, 1941. He reenlisted in the Army and became a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne during WWII.
According to David Bald Eagle’s Facebook page, “He and his unit jumped behind the lines at Anzio and fought their way to the beachhead. On D-Day the 82nd Airborne, including Dave, were mistakenly dropped over German lines. ‘We were just like clay pigeons, coming down,’ Dave recalls. ‘Most of my outfit was wiped out.’ Before he even hit the ground, Bald Eagle was riddled with bullets. He survived but he was so badly shot up that the Army refused to let him re-enlist.”
Bald Eagle passed away on Friday, July 22, 2016 at the age of 97. RIP, brother. You accomplished so many things in your wonderful lifetime… but it’s your time in military uniform where our country wishes to “thank you for your service!”
Famous Veterans: these public figures (actors, directors, musicians, artists, singers, athletes, politicians) all served in the United States Armed Forces. Another reason to love your favorite celebrity: FamousVeterans!