David Beautiful Bald Eagle: Lakota Chief, Movie Star, WWII Paratrooper 1919-2016 :

When David Beautiful Bald Eagle was a child he would listen to the elders on the reservation talk of the old days. His grandfathers White Bull and White Feather told stories of when they were young warriors fighting at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

David Beautiful Bald Eagle was born in 1919 in a Tepee. When his nation went to war he became a warrior with the 82nd Airborne Division. He fought at Anzio and jumped into Normandy on D-Day in the early morning hours of June 6, 1944. On D-Day, Dave and his unit were dropped right over German lines.

David Beautiful Bald Eagle

David Beautiful Bald Eagle (Photo: Steve Miller)

“We were just like clay pigeons, coming down,” Dave remembered. “Most of my outfit was wiped out.”

Dave was hit before he even hit the ground. Unconscious, he laid in a pool of his own blood.

He was left for dead until some British commandos came and found he still had a pulse. They rushed him to a field hospital and saved his life. The wounds he received were so serious that he was not allowed to fight anymore.

During the war, Dave fell in love with an English dance instructor. They married after the war, returned to South Dakota and became ballroom dancing champions for a district encompassing Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming, until his pregnant wife was killed in a car accident in 1946.
After his wife’s death, Dave took up skydiving, race car driving, became a pro rodeo rider and Hollywood actor. He eventually remarried a Belgian actress named Josee Kesteman.

David Beautiful Bald Eagle

(Photo: Chad Copess)

David Beautiful Bald Eagle was named the Chief of the Minnicoujou tribe and later became First Chief of the United Indigenous Nations, a society of chiefs from various reservations.

After the war he thought more about what his grandfathers had said of their war and realized the importance of his grandfathers’ history and the history of his people. He fought to bring a positive face to Native Americans and did so through meeting with other native peoples, appearing in movies like “Dances with Wolves” and educating people about the Lakota and their traditions. He said:

“I know we can’t go back there, back to where we were. But we can tell the young ones how it was and they can remember, and they can bring it back. They can return.”

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2 thoughts on “David Beautiful Bald Eagle: Lakota Chief, Movie Star, WWII Paratrooper 1919-2016

  • Bill Getz says:

    The main character in my new novel is partly Lakota Sioux and whose grandmother was IjKalaka for whom the town of Ekalaka, Montana is named.

  • Peter Kubicek says:

    Here is a story of how a U.S. soldier saved 200 Jews.

    Roddie Edmonds is the first US soldier to receive Israel’s Righteous Among Nations honor, 70 years after he risked his life to save 200 Jews.

    The native of Knoxville, TN, was captured in the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944 and held at German POW camp Stalag IXA. When the Nazis ordered all Jewish-American POW’s to step forward on January 27, 1945, Edmonds — the highest-ranking officer at the camp — ordered 1,000 US soldiers to do so, regardless of their religion.
    “They cannot all be Jews” a German commander said. “We are all Jews here,” Edmonds replied, adding that soldiers did not need to divulge their religion under the Geneva Convention. The Nazi commander then put a gun to Edmond’s head.
    He said, “I will give you one more chance or I will shoot you on the spot.” Edmonds replied, “If you shoot, you will have to shoot us all.”
    The commander yielded. Thus Edmonds move saved 200 lives.
    Edmonds died in 1985 and his untold story died with him. Sometime later, a man named Lester Tanner mentioned that Edmonds saved his life.
    Edmonds was honored as only the fifth American to receive the Israeli honor.

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