Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
Our History - “Spirit of the American Doughboy” Statue
Since 1924, a “Spirit of the American Doughboy” statue has greeted Veterans, staff and visitors to what is now known as the South entrance of the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center.
The statue is one of 134 authentic “Spirit of the American Doughboy” statues, which were produced by American sculptor Ernest Moore Viquesney in the 1920s and 1930s to honor World War I Veterans and troops who lost their lives during the war.
Of the 134 statues, only two recognize the role that Native Americans played in World War I. One is in Bullhead, South Dakota and the other is located here at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center.
Our “Doughboy” statue was a gift from The Five Civilized Tribes, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and others. The statue was erected to recognize the contributions of Native Americans from The Five Civilized Tribes, which are the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole, Cherokee and Creek, who fought in World War I.
The statue was dedicated on Sept. 5, 1925 in memory of Joseph Oklahombi, a Choctaw Code Talker who served with the American Expeditionary Forces in France and was awarded the Silver Star and the Croix de Guerre, France’s equivalent to the Congressional Medal of Honor.
On October 8, 1918, Oklahombi and 23 soldiers crossed 210 yards of No Man’s Land at St. Etienne, France and attacked a German machine gun position. They are believed to have killed 79 German soldiers and captured 170.
A plaque on the front of the statue contains a circular symbol of The Five Civilized Tribes and, reads:
ERECTED IN COMMEMORATION
OF MEMBERS OF THE FIVE
CIVILIZED TRIBES, WHOSE
RECORD OF ENLISTMENT,
CONDUCT IN CAMP, AND
FORTITUDE AND VALOR ON
THE BATTLEFIELD, ADDED
LUSTRE TO THE TRIUMPHANT
VICTORY OF OUR COUNTRY IN
THE WORLD WAR.
The statue is also historic because it is one of only four known Viquesney “Doughboy” statues with a copyright mark that reads “Copyright Walter Rylander 1920.”
Walter Rylander was one of several Veterans who posed for the statue and when Viquesney encountered financial difficulties, Rylander obtained rights to the “Spirit of the American Doughboy” statues from 1922 to 1926.