ranger

ranger

paratrooper jump wings/glider wings

paratrooper jump wings/glider wings

medal of honor winner

medal of honor winner

Billy Walkabout, a native Cherokee whose actions in Vietnam made him among most decorated soldiers of the war, died Wednesday. He was 57.

Walkabout, who lived in Montville, died of pneumonia and renal failure at a Norwich hospital, said his stepdaughter, Randi Johnson of Norwich.

He had experienced complications related to his exposure to the Agent Orange defoliant used during the Vietnam conflict, she said, and he had been on a kidney transplant waiting list and undergoing dialysis three times a week.

Walkabout received the Distinguished Service Cross, Purple Heart, five Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars. He was believed to be the most decorated Native American soldier of the Vietnam War, according to U.S. Department of Defense reports.

Walkabout, a Cherokee of the Blue Holley Clan, was an 18-year-old Army Ranger sergeant when he and 12 other soldiers were sent on an assassination mission behind enemy lines on Nov. 20, 1968, in a region southwest of Hue.

However, they ended up in the enemy’s battalion area and came under fire for hours, during which he was seriously wounded. Several of the other 12 men were killed at the scene, while the rest later died of their injuries.

Walkabout’s citation for the Distinguished Service Cross said he simultaneously returned fire, helped his comrades and boarded other injured soldiers onto evacuation helicopters.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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