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File:General douglas macarthur meets american indian troops wwii military pacific navajo pima island hopping.JPG



English: Photo nationally publicized in February, 1944, of General Douglas MacArthur meeting five Native American troops serving in one unit (US Army Signal Corps official photo taken in late 1943 during World War II).

Original caption

Original typed period caption with Office of Indian Affairs ink stamp:

"General Douglas MacArthur, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific Area on an inspection trip of American battle fronts, met representatives of five different American Indian tribes in one United States Army unit. Left to right: S/Sgt. Virgil Brown ( Pima) Phoenix, Arizona; First Sergeant Virgil F. Howell ( Pawnee) of Pawnee, Oklahoma; S/Sgt. Alvin J. Vilcan ( Chitimacha) of Charenton, La.: General MacArthur; S/Sgt. Byron L. Tsignine ( Navajo) of Fort Defiance, Arizona; Sgt. Larry L. Dokin, (Navajo) of Copper Mine, Arizona. (US SIGNAL CORPS PHOTO)."

Period stamped markings

"Photographed by (blank) Assignment Unit No. 832nd Signal Service Co. Reg. No (handwritten)17641 Photo By U.S. Army S(unreadable) FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Not to be Released from (unreadable)"



"AFTER USE, PLEASE RETURN TO-- (handwritten) Information 1001 Mdse Mart Office of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior, (handwritten) Chicago""

Period publication

Like some other photos selected for national distribution by the War Department Photo News Board Bureau of Public Relations, this image appeared in newspapers from coast to coast. Still-verifiable instances are known from newspapers of the states of New York, South Dakota, Minnesota, and others. Invariably the Signal Corps' original caption (above) was edited to exclude the line "on an inspection trip of American battle fronts," and the headline "MacArthur Poses With His Indian Warriors" was added. The added headline's stereotypical use of the phrase Indian Warriors, even while reflecting the popular sentiment of the era, can be offensive to politically-correct modern readers.

For a typical period published version of the photo, see: File:General_douglas_macarthur_meets_american_indian_troops_wwii_military_pacific_navajo_pima_newspaper_photo_typical.jpg

The photographed personalities

According to the author of "Silent Warriors of World War II: The Alamo Scouts Behind Japanese Lines", "Sgt. Byron L. Tsingine, a Navajo from the Deer Water People Clan from Coppermine, Ariz., and Ssg. Alvin J. Vilcan, a Chitimacha from Louisiana, graduated from the first training class" at the Alamo Scouts Training Centre, and "the Alamo Scouts were a top secret reconnaissance and raider unit.... (later) recognized by the Army as a forerunner of the modern Special Forces."

Tsingine was qualified for operational team duty but instead returned to his unit, the 158th infantry, to serve as a scout and code talker. While the once-secret Navajo Code Talkers are now the celebrated subjects of documentaries, these generally refer only to those which served in the US Marines. However, some Army units used Navajo speakers as communications liaisons with the Marine units. Soldier Earl Newman, of the Service Company of the 158th said "Tsingine and other Indians were invaluable.... they would speak Navajo and confuse the Japanese; A Navajo was placed in each company and Tsingine communicated using the Navajo language when he did reconnaissance work."

The seldom-photographed S/Sgt. Alvin J. Vilcan was one of only around 70 then-living members of the Chitimacha tribe ---and one of very few in the US military during WWII.


  1. a b c d e US Army Signal Corps (832nd Signal Service Co), "Official Photo 17641" (released for publication by War Department Photo News Board Bureau of Public Relations: 31 Dec 1943).
  2. a b (4 Feb 1944). " MacArthur Poses With His Indian Warriors". The Greece Press: 4.
  3. (4 Feb 1944). " MacArthur Poses With His Indian Warriors". The Montrose Herald: 6.
  4. a b (3 Feb 1944). " MacArthur Poses With His Indian Warriors". Hutchinson Herald: 2.
  5. a b Zedric, Lance Q. "American Indians of the Alamo Scouts" Part Two in Indian Country Today
Date 31 December 1943
Source US Army Signal Corps (832nd Signal Service Co)
Author user:cramyourspam edited retouch of old US Govt photo
( Reusing this file)
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Public domain This image is a work of a U.S. Army soldier or employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

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