Pfc. Sheldon Hawk Eagle holds a cap with the Cheyenne River Sioux tribal logo in front of his tent in the Iraqi desert. Family photo.
Pfc. Sheldon Hawk Eagle, 21, was one of 17 U.S. soldiers killed in November when two U.S. Army helicopters collided in Mosul in northern Iraq.
Raised in the Green Grass UCC in Eagle Butte, S.D., Hawk Eagle was a member of Upper Cheyenne UCC in Bridger, S.D., on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. He enlisted in the Army in July 2002 and was deployed to Iraq last March.
According to the Eagle Butte News, Hawk Eagle looked upon military service as a duty and an honor. His Lakota name, Wanbli Ohitika, meant "brave eagle" and he was a descendant of Crazy Horse, the newspaper said. He was one of 90 tribal members currently serving in the U.S. military.
"He was well liked by everyone and his death has affected the whole reservation," says the Rev. Ed Finertie, pastor-at-large for the UCC's Dakota Association.
A memorial fund has been established to assist with the family's expenses. Donations can be sent to the "Sheldon Hawk Eagle Memorial," P.O. Box 590, Eagle Butte, SD 57625