Omaha Tribe's Stabler, WWII vet and author, dies at 89
WALTHILL, Neb. -- An Omaha Tribe member whose autobiographical book, "No One Ever Asked Me -- The World War II Memoirs of an Omaha Indian," chronicled his experiences as a soldier in that conflict, died Monday at his residence.
Hollis Dorian Stabler, 89, was born in Hampton, Va., and grew up in Walthill, Oklahoma and Kansas. His Omaha Indian name is Na-zhin-thia, or Slow to Rise. He enlisted in the Army in 1938 after a stint in the National Guard. He remembered being a cavalry man when that still meant horses, but he later became a member of the 67th Armored Regiment under Brig. Gen. George Patton.
In July 1943, Stabler's 2nd Armored Division saw action in Sicily. With debilitating heel infections, he was left behind in a Naples hospital while his division went to England. It was then he volunteered for the legendary Darby's Rangers. He fought a number of campaigns with the Fourth Ranger Battalion in Africa, Italy and France.
He was wounded at Anzio in Italy. His brother, Robert Stabler, a soldier with the 3rd Infantry, was killed nearby.
Stabler earned the Purple Heart, the French Freedom Medal, Bronze Star, American Medal, the Combat Infantry Medal and others.
His final campaign was along the French Riviera where his 1st Special Services Force liberated Nice and Monaco. "We called it the champagne campaign," he told the Journal with a wry smile several years ago.
Stabler saw 28 months of combat during his seven-year enlistment, and more agony and death than he will tell of, said his daughter, Wehnona St. Cyr. "He's very proud, not just of his military service, but because of the culture he comes from. It's so important," she said.
In "No One Ever Asked Me," Stabler recounts some horrific battle scenes, telling his tales matter-of-factly. He also tells of bigotry and how he dealt with it, but he doesn't dwell on those incidents. He told a Journal reporter in 2005 that he didn't mind that his fellow soldiers called him Chief. But, one time, a soldier from another unit noticed Stabler's new corporal patch and said, "'They must be scraping the bottom of the barrel.' I hit him. It made me mad all of the sudden," Stabler recalled.
He handled other racial confrontations with humor.
Many of Stabler's "war" stories tend to favor the humorous events. When stationed in Monterey, Calif., he said, future President Ronald Reagan was a Reserve officer with his unit. Reagan's wife, Jane Wyman, beautifully dressed, would drive out to pick him up. "We would wave and wave, you know," Stabler said with a wink. "He thought we were waving at him!