It is unknown how many American Indians and Alaska Natives served in the Marine Corps during World War I, but the men identified as serving performed a wide variety of tasks from fighting on the front lines in France, to guard duty at U.S. Naval stations, and deployment to Haiti, Cuba, and the Philippines.
Private John W. Beyer (Aleut) from Valdez, Alaska, served with the 5th Marines, Company G, part of the 4th Marine Brigade that saw intense fighting in the Chateau-Thierry sector and Belleau Wood. In appreciation of the Marines’ success in running the Germans out of the woods, they were officially renamed “Bois de la Brigade de Marine.”
Jackson Colvard or Jack Jackson (Eastern Band Cherokee), as he was known while a student at Carlisle, served with the Marines on Guam. While there, he participated in Red Cross War Drives to raise money for the war effort. In a letter dated May 29, 2918, to Superintendent Francis at Carlisle, he describes the efforts this way:
“The center of attraction for the crowds was the booths that line the streets at the West side of the Plaza. There every known device to lure money to the Red Cross coffers was in operation. Among the strangest devices that helped to bring in returns was the raffling of two turtles, both weighing 300 lbs.”
Tuscarora brothers James and William Garlow both served in the Marines. Sergeant James Garlow served on several expeditionary forces at sea and in the “tropics,” but was stationed at the Navy Yard at Charleston, South Carolina, through his honorable discharge July 13, 1920. Private First Class William Garlow saw more action. After spending a year at the Navy Yard, Philadelphia, he was transferred to Cuba with the 2nd Machine Gun Battalion, and then spent a year with the 2nd Regiment 197th Company in Haiti before his honorable discharge January 16, 1920.
Private Edward Isham (Lac Courte Oreilles) served with the 6th Marines, 95th Company. He was described as being good with the automatic rifle.
After Thomas Wamego (Potawatomi) received his training at Paris Island, South Carolina, he served with the 85th Company of the Mobile Artillery Force at Quantico, Virginia. During his days at camp, he ran track and won three medals.