Remember Milo Hendricks: Brave Choctaw gave his life in Cuba

Ordinary young people discover their own capacity for courage very quickly when the nation needs soldiers. Thankfully, most of them come home after a war — home to finish schooling and marry and begin careers and families.

Sometimes, sadly, they do not return. The first alumnus who did not return from a bitter battle gave his life as a famed Rough Rider at San Juan Hill, Cuba, in 1898.

The Henry Kendall College Quartet, 1897. Left to right: Ben McCurtain, Gabe Parker, Sam Matthews and Milo Hendricks.

Henry Kendall College QuartetMilo Hendricks was a young Choctaw from Indian Territory and apparently enjoyed his life at Henry Kendall College very much. Athletic and popular, he sang in the Kendall Quartet and planned to graduate in 1901.

However, when a recruiter came to Muskogee, Milo volunteered to join the Cavalry to fight in the Spanish American War. The Battleship USS Maine had mysteriously exploded in a Cuban harbor, and the Oklahoma and Indian Territories were quick to respond.

Historians have questioned whether the Spaniards really blew up the Maine, but in terms of young Oklahomans’ bloodshed, the controversy does not matter.
It was a short but terrible war. Troops had inappropriate uniforms and inadequate weapons; paltry field hospitals existed to treat typhoid, malaria and wounded soldiers. Twenty percent of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders became war casualties.

However, history records that the Spanish were turned back, and Cuba won its fight for independence.

But young Milo did not come home to graduate.