Skip to main content

Wisconsin Honors Native WWII Vet on His 92nd Birthday

Richard Ackley Sr. recently celebrated his 92nd birthday with the state of Wisconsin where the Native WWII veteran was recognized for his service.

Last Tuesday, March 10, Richard Ackley Senior was honored by the state of Wisconsin on his 92nd birthday for his service in the military in WWII. During the birthday celebration, there were the customary birthday treats and good cheer – but in addition to the fanfare, Ackley Sr. was also presented with a citation of appreciation for his service by Wisconsin State Representative Jeff Mursau.

Ackley Sr. who celebrated among family and friends told news crews attending the event, "I've had a lot of birthdays along the line, but I've never had anything similar to this," Ackley said.

Ackley Sr., a member of the Sokaogon Mole Lake Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in Forest County was born in 1923. In 1923, American Indians were not considered U.S. citizens.

When He was 18, Ackley Sr. enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was deployed to Normandy as part of the Northern France Air Offensive. Obtaining the rank of Staff Sergeant Ackley also served in Germany and in the Ascension Islands. During his tour of duty, he earned three bronze stars and when working on an airstrip in a war zone during war time, broke both legs and earned a purple heart.

In an interview with WJFW on his birthday Ackley said, "Got on a British ship and went down to Africa. Through the time we were traveling, we had to travel in zigzags, because they had submarines all around at that time."

Ackley Sr.’s son Richard Ackley Jr. also attended the celebration. In an email to ICTMN, Ackley Jr. spoke of his father’s accomplishments as a proud Native veteran.

“He grew up in poverty and attended the Missionary School of Lac du Flambeau at age 5 and learned English. Mr. Ackley was born in Forest County Wisconsin and as a Native American was not yet accepted as a U.S. Citizen. It was not until the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 did he then officially receive citizenship,” Ackley Jr. wrote.

Ackley Jr. also told ICTMN that his father will be among a group of veterans that will be honored in Washington, D.C.

“He and a group of WWII Wisconsin veterans will be aboard the Never Forgotten Flight to D.C. on April 27 and will be visiting the WWII Veteran's Memorial. According to Ackley Jr. his father will be honored with ceremonies, tours and sights and all of the participants will receive a jacket, hat and a duffle bag. “They will also participate in an old fashioned "mail call" while in flight and there will be a dinner and recognition ceremony.”

Ackley Jr. also told ICTMN that his father “is sincere in his desire to educate our young people about WWII and the sacrifices we all had made.” As Ackley Sr. told WJFW News, “"I'd like for them to know more about the history, what went on, you know," he said. "It seems like to me, when I talk to younger people, they don't understand what really happened."

In addition to all of Staff Sgt. Ackley Sr.’s accomplishments he said he was proud to have raised five children and is a proud grandfather of eight. He said his biggest accomplishment is “raising his children to be good citizens.”