Dr. Bhagat Singh Thind
Submitted by: Tanveer Kalo
Dr. Bhagat Singh Thind was one of the first Asian Indian soldiers and first turbaned Sikh to serve in the United States Army during the First World War.
Dr. Bhagat Singh Thind was born on October 3, 1892 in Taragarh, Punjab, British India. Dr. Bhagat Singh Thind arrived to Seattle, Washington on July 14, 1913 on board the ship Minnesota from Manila, Philippines. His younger brother, Jagat Singh Thind died onboard the ship Komagata Maru, which had been forced to turn back from Canada in 1914 because of country’s racial laws. When the ship returned to India, the British government thought the Indians on board the ship were attempting incite revolutionary activities, and a riot broke up out. Many were killed and jailed, including Jagat Singh Thind. Dr. Thind came to the United States for higher education to become a spiritual teacher and scholar. He made his way to Oregon and eventually settled in California later in life.
Dr. Thind came to the United States for higher education to become a spiritual teacher and scholar. When America entered the war, Dr. Thind was studying at the University of California, Berkeley for metaphysics, spirituality, and religion and it is safe to assume that he wanted to serve his new home and uphold the strong warrior tradition of the Sikh faith. He enlisted in the United States Army when the country entered the war in the 1917. He trained at Camp Lewis in Washington state but did not see overseas action. He also listed in October 1918 issue of the newspaper and journal Young India with other Asians serving in the U.S military during the war. Dr. Thind was one of the thousands of Indian Sikhs that bravely served in the war, but he was the first turbaned Sikh to serve in the U.S during the war. Dr. Thind received an Honorable Discharge with the of rank of acting sergeant in 1918 when the war ended.