His warrior name is Wanbli Isnala.October 7, 2009 at 10:52 am | Posted in Historical, Obituary | Leave a comment
Tags: Iraq occupation, Oglala Sioux, South Dakota
In January 2006 Corporal Brett Lundstrom was the first Oglala Sioux to be killed in the American war of aggression against Iraq. He was given full honors by his tribe in a five-day funeral at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Kyle, South Dakota.
(Rocky Mountain News) Among his distant relations was Dewey Beard, also known by the Indian name Iron Hail, who fought in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and who also survived the 1890 massacre at nearby Wounded Knee. A grandfather on his father’s side was Red Cloud, one of the great Lakota leaders of the 1800s.
More recently, his great-uncle, Charlie Underbaggage, was killed at the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. Another great-uncle, Alfred Underbaggage, was killed in Korea. He has relatives at Pine Ridge who served in Vietnam and Desert Storm. His father, Ed, was a career Marine, and retired recently as a major.
At the time of Brett’s death, his brother, Eddy – his only other sibling – was serving in the Army, stationed in the Iraqi hot spot of Tikrit.
“He was born to be a Marine,” said Philip Underwood, who first met Brett when they were teenagers. By then, Lundstrom had long since decided to join the armed forces. The two friends spent the bulk of their time razzing each other, rarely serious – until it came to the Corps, which spawned a conversation that’s rarely spoken, even among the best of friends.
“As a friend, he told me one time, ‘I will die for you,’ ” Underwood said.
Lundstrom’s parents grew up on and around reservations – his father at nearby Rosebud, his mother at Pine Ridge – but due to Ed Lundstrom’s job with the Marines the family moved around the country, spending most of their time in Virginia.
Though the family returned to the reservation only periodically – primarily when Brett was young – Brett retained an interest in Indian tradition.
In January 2003 he enlisted, not only in the Marines, but in the most dangerous job in the Corps – one that would almost certainly send him into battle.
“I always told him he volunteered twice. Not only did he volunteer as a Marine, he volunteered to be infantry,” Ed Lundstrom said.
“I tried to talk him out of it. He had so many other options besides enlisting. But he knew what he was getting into. He went into it eyes wide open,” he said.
Brett served three months in Afghanistan in 2004. Nine months later, in September 2005, he headed to Iraq with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.