Joseph Beimfohr enlisted in the Army two days after his 17th birthday; his grandmother, who raised him, signed his enlistment paperwork. He went to Iraq in January 2005, and his unit was tasked to clear travel routes that were polluted with improvised explosive devices (IED) and to search households for weapons. In July of that year, Beimfohr and his men had just disarmed an IED when a second explosion ripped into him. He lost both legs, but he did not lose his sense of pride in his work and his determination to persevere.
The Veterans History Project (VHP) at the Library of Congress American Folklife Center spotlights his story and other interviews of Native Americans in “Willing to Serve: American Indians,” a website feature that comprises nine first-person accounts of those who volunteered to serve during conflicts from World War II to Iraq. These one-of-a-kind stories can be found at www.loc.gov/vets/.
“As with veterans of other minority groups, the service and sacrifice of Native American veterans are often overlooked,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “Having their recollections among the over 66,000 individual stories in the VHP collection enriches our archive for researchers and scholars, and ensures that we recognize their important service in support of our nation.”