Billy Walkabout To Be Buried In Arlington

Friday, March 16th 2007, 6:24 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ An Oklahoma native who was the most decorated American Indian soldier in the Vietnam War will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery next weekend, family members said.

Arrangements have been made for the March 26 burial of Billy Walkabout, 57, family members said. Several relatives and friends may travel to Arlington, Va., for the ceremony, Spencer resident Vincent Phillips, Walkabout's nephew, told The Oklahoman's Washington bureau.

Walkabout, a Cherokee, died last week in Connecticut, where he had lived for the past few years. He was born in Cherokee County.

Phillips, the son of Walkabout's sister, said Walkabout joined the Army soon after graduating from U.S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City in 1968.

Walkabout spent 23 months in Vietnam. He was serving as an Army Ranger sergeant when he and about a dozen other U.S. soldiers came under heavy enemy fire.

Walkabout was wounded but continued to hold off the enemy while tending to his wounded comrades, relatives said. Walkabout earned the Distinguished Service Cross, five Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart.

According to a Defense Department publication, he was the most decorated Indian soldier in the war.

Walkabout's father left the family when he was a boy, Phillips said, and his mother married Jess Phillips, who served in the Army. The family moved to Oklahoma City.

After the war, Walkabout split his time between Oklahoma City and Tahlequah, although he also lived in South Dakota for a while, Phillips said.

Phillips, a Navy veteran and electrician, said one of Walkabout's sons is serving in the Army and another is an Army veteran.