Honoring a forgotten WW II Native American hero in Phoenix, Arizona

By Cherokee Mangus
News From Indian Country June 2010

Senator McCain and Ward
Farley.  Photo by Commander
David Carrasco
The Military Order of the Purple Heart, Dept. of Veterans Affairs and  U.S. Senator John McCain, honored a forgotten 85 – year old Navajo Native American WWII Veteran on this Memorial Day weekend in Prescott, Arizona.

Ward Farley received 7 medals including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart which Farley earned but never received as an infantry rifleman in various European campaigns during WWII, with Co. C, 413th Infantry Regiment, 104th Infantry Division, known as the “Timberwolf Division.” Ward Farley returned to his life as a rancher on the Navajo reservation in Southeast Utah and waited 65-years to receive the proper recognition.

Ward Farley at the tender age of 17 enlisted in U.S. Army when he could speak only Navajo, yet he was still able to sign his name on the dotted line December 18, 1942.  Fighting with the famed Timberwolf Division, Ward Farley participated in the division’s hard-fought assault on Cologne, Germany.

In one of the numerous night attacks which earned the division world-wide recognition, the 104th spanned the Roer River on February 23, 1945. Farley seriously wounded in the attack, he laid untreated for two days before he was found and evacuated to England for treatment.

On December 4, 1945 Ward Farley received medical retirement papers that reflected the award of 7 separate decorations but he never physically received the medals.

Farley made a special request for the presence of Terry and Percy Piestewa, (who are the parents of late Army Pfc Lori Piestewa), at the Prescott ceremony. Mrs. Farley presented blankets to the Piestewas. Also present at the event was Lori’s daughter, Cala Piestewa.

This event was a special project made possible by a year-long effort of Purple Heart Recipient, John Chavez, New Mexico, David Carrasco, Commander of POW/MIA/KIA Honor Guard, Phoenix, AZ. and John E. Bircher III, Director of Public Relations, Military Order of the Purple Heart.

On The  Net: