September 24, 2013 –
MAYETTA: The late Captain Elwin I. “Eh Mit Nek Weh” Shopteese, a Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation member, was inducted into the 2013 35th Infantry Division Hall of Fame on Sept. 21 in Manhattan, Kansas. He, along with five other veterans, was honored for exemplary past military service at the hall of fame event. His widow, Kitty, and several other Prairie Band Potawatomi members, attended the induction ceremony.
Others inducted into the Hall of Fame were: Second Lieutenant Albert J. Gibeau, Jr.; Technical Sergeant Donald L. Giles; Private First Class James G. Graff; First Lieutenant Odie T. Stallcup, and Technical Sergeant John E. “Gene” Weick.
Shopteese served in World War II and the Korean War and rose to the rank of Captain. He was born on July 16, 1921 and served in E Company, 137th Infantry, during World War II. He was mobilized with the unit in December of 1940 and reported to Camp Robinson, Arkansas. Following Pearl Harbor, he was sent to California with the 35th Division and then trained with the Division in Alabama and North Carolina.
On July 5, 1944 he landed on Omaha Beach and the following day was given a rare battlefield commission, one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a combat solider. He also participated in battles at St. Lo and those that took place in Normandy, Northern France, the Ardennes, the Rhineland, and Central Europe.
In 1945, Shopteese won a Bronze Star for heroic leadership against the Germans near Herne, Germany. On April 10 he formed a small patrol and led it to a point inside enemy lines while the rest of the unit was pinned down by enemy fire. The patrol’s move disorganized the enemy, and this action saved the lines of the rest of the unit, thus were able to route the enemy.
Following World War II Shopteese was photographed with President Harry S. Truman when the President made a stop in Brussels, Belgium on his way to the Potsdam Conference to recognize Shopteese. The photograph can be seen at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri.
Following his military service, Shopteese dedicated his life to alcohol prevention programs and helped many Native Americans get a new start in life. He died on June 25, 1992 and is buried in Shipshee Cemetery on the Prairie Band Potawatomi Reservation.