VOLK FIELD, Wis. — Hangar walls echoed with the sounds of a ceremonial drum as Descendants of the Red Arrow gathered for the 41st annual Veterans Day Pow Wow to honor their family members and all who have served in the military.
“As I look at everything on base, it reminds me of not only my family, but everyone who has served,” said Michael Day, master of ceremonies and grandson to George Miner, one of the 28 Ho-Chunk warriors who served in World War I.
More than 100 years ago, before they were legally recognized U.S. citizens, 28 Ho-Chunk men of varying ages — known as Winnebago Indians in 1917 — volunteered to join the Wisconsin National Guard for the “Great War” in Europe. They enlisted in Company D, 128th Infantry Regiment at Camp Douglas, Wisconsin and mustered at the Wisconsin Military Reservation, where Volk Field is now located. Some had already served with the Wisconsin National Guard in recent months for the Mexican Border Crisis of 1916.
“Grandpa joined the service because he was a warrior and he saw the need to defend,” Day said. “He saw the injustices going on and needed to stand up. He couldn’t sit on the sidelines even though he wasn’t consider a legal citizen.”
The descendants of those warriors have met at the base hanger over the past four decades to celebrate their service, their memory, and the 32nd “Red Arrow” Division — whose heritage is carried on today by the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
At the Pow Wow, songs are performed in honor of the veterans. Family members and others raise flags that once covered their veteran’s coffin for their funeral. A meal is shared among all who attend.
“We want to respect the people before us — our relatives, and all others no matter the branch,” Day said. “Our little ones see it, and we are showing them by example.”
Volk Field support staff, Senior Master Sgt. Vaughan Wilberg and Master Sgt. Bridget Garber, also attended the Pow Wow.
“We, the members of Volk Field, are happy to have you here today, and we thank you for including us in this 40th Annual Veterans Pow Wow,” Wilberg said.
“To me supporting this event is a great opportunity to thank members of Ho-Chunk and to celebrate Veterans Day together as one unit,” Garber said.