Rainbow Warriors left enormous legacy

Less than a decade after moving to Tulsa, a different chapter of bravery unfolded in the college’s life. The “Kendallites” were still basking in the afterglow of winning the 1916 Football Championship when a call went out for new men to join the war effort. It must have been hard to leave the campus; after all, their team had outscored their opponents by an astonishing record of 566-40 and had recently beaten the Sooners, 16-0!

However, when the football team huddled this time, they made the unanimous decision to enlist as a team. Other students and teachers apparently joined them, and approximately 30 young men signed up to serve their country in World War I. The Tulsa World reported “the strength of Ambulance Company No. 1, Oklahoma National Guard, was materially increased yesterday when a contingent of Henry Kendall College students marched into the recruiter tent at Fourth and Main and offered their services to the country.” (May 1, 1917).

The 167th Ambulance Company, World War IThey joined the 167th Ambulance Company, part of the “Rainbow Division,” so named because its troops included recruits from east to west. One of Henry Kendall’s young men, Josiah Chatfield, became a journalist after World War I and wrote tenderly about his experience. The Tulsa soldiers, he said, landed in France on October 31, 1917.

And while the 1917 college football team did not win a game, the story of the absent Rainbow Warriors, athletes and others, had a very happy ending. All of them came safely home.