ANADARKO, Okla. ? Selflessness is a cornerstone of military service in times of war and peace. Every soldier, sailor, Marine and airman accepts that they may be called upon at any time to make the ultimate sacrifice. There is no higher act of honor.
Silas Wayne Boyiddle, a member of the Kiowa and Apache Tribes of Oklahoma, made that sacrifice 50 years ago in the Korean War. He has been listed as Missing in Action for half a century but his remains may now be returning home.
Pfc. Boyiddle was serving in the 21st Infantry Regiment in July 1950 near Chonui, South Korea. The 21st Infantry had been fighting a delaying action against the advancing Chinese and North Koreans and were falling back to the city of Chochiwon on July 11. According to official Department of Defense (DoD) records, July 11 is the date Boyiddle was designated as missing in action (MIA).
Hicks Boyiddle, a younger brother of Silas and an employee of the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma Housing Authority, told Indian Country Today that it was not until June 1952 that his family learned that his brother had been captured and was being held as a prisoner-of-war (POW) in a North Korean prison camp. Mamie Boyiddle, Silas' late mother, did not learn that her son had died from malnutrition in captivity until 1954 when the repatriation of remains and POWs from North Korea did not include her son.
"They [DoD] didn't tell my mother anything until 1952 and he had been missing since 1950," said Hicks. "He had died in a prison camp from malnutrition and we had to find that out from others that had been in the same camp."
Recently, DoD informed Hicks and his older brother William, as the closest surviving relative, that their brother's remains may have been found and are in the process of being repatriated. The announcement was made as part of an invitation to the Boyiddle family to attend the Korean and Cold War Annual Government Briefings to be held at Arlington, Va., from July 25 to 27. DoD stated that the North Korean government was returning 19 sets of POW remains and that there was credible evidence that two of those were American Indian and found in the general area where Pfc. Boyiddle was last known to be.
Hicks and William have both submitted DNA samples to compare to the remains. A July 12 Pow wow at the Apache Center in Anadarko, Okla., raised funds to help the family travel to Washington. In a statement to support the benefit, the family said, "There is strong evidence that these remains are those of Silas Wayne Boyiddle. Silas has paid the supreme sacrifice for his family, fellow tribesman and country. If it were not for these type of people, we would not be enjoying the freedom and the things that we are doing today and in the future." The official results of the DNA test will be announced at the Virginia conference.
"It is a very good feeling," said Hicks of the likely return of his brother's remains, but added that it was disappointing that his mother did not live to see her son's return to his homeland. "My mother used to take my brother's medals out every day, turn to the East and pray for his safe return."
Mamie was the first Gold Star Mother in the Apache and Kiowa Tribes of Oklahoma and proudly had four of her sons serve in the military.