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Nine Indian immigrants who served in US military during World War I

Most of these men saw action in Europe in the Great War.

By Tanveer Kalo

Bhagat Singh Thind

Dr. Bhagat Singh Thind

Dr. Bhagat Singh Thind came to the United States in 1913 to become a spiritual teacher and scholar. In 1917, when America entered World War I, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Thind trained at Camp Lewis in Washington state and did not see action in Europe. He was honorably discharged with the rank of acting sergeant in 1918. After his completing his military service, Thind published and taught about spirituality, religion, and metaphysics. One of the most well known parts of Dr. Thind’s life is his struggle to obtain US citizenship, epitomized in the 1923 U.S. Supreme Court case Bhagat Singh vs. the United States.

Raghunath N. Banawalkar 

Raghunath N. Banawalker arrived in the United States in 1910. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on February 25, 1918, and completed his basic training at Camp Upton in Long Island, New York. Banawalkar saw action in France from April 16, 1918, to April 24, 1919.  After the war, he worked as a clerk in New York City and remained there until his death.

RELATED: In defense of their new home: Indian Americans who fought for the United States in World War I (August 20, 2017)

Ladli Prasada (L.P.) Varman

In 1913, Ladli Prasada Varman arrived in the United States. On June 5, 1917, Varman was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served in the army from June 24, 1918, to January 27, 1919, and served in France. After the war, Varman went to Chicago, Illinois, and worked in freight traffic. Later in life, he settled in California

Kekee H. Patell

Kekke H. Patell arrived in America before 1918. Patell was inducted into the United States Army on June 18, 1918. He trained at Camp Hancock, Georgia. Patell served in France from August 22, 1918, to June, 1 1919.

Ramchandra Dhondurao (R.D.) Shelke 

Ramchandra Dhondurao Shelke came to the United States on July 31, 1914, for higher education. On July 5, 1917, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served overseas in Europe from March 4, 1918, to August 20, 1919.  After the war, Shelke settled down in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and stayed there until his death.  He obtained a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and worked as an electrical engineer.

Amulla M. Mukerji  

Amulla M. Mukerji immigrated to the United States in 1915. He settled in Detroit, Michigan. He also served overseas in France. After the war he went to back to Detroit and worked as machinist.

Karm Chandra Kerwell

Dr. Karm Chandra Kerwell

Dr. Karm Chandra Kerwell immigrated to the United States before 1917 to study medicine. He enlisted in the Michigan National Guard and was stationed at the US-Mexican border while studying medicine at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. When America entered World War I in 1917, Kerwell enlisted in the U.S. Army.  After the war, he settled in Stephenson, Michigan, where he became a well respected  doctor and was honored by city’s medical community.

Devi Singh

Devi Singh arrived in the United States before 1917. He settled in California. Singh served overseas in France from December 11, 1917, to April 30, 1919.

Manganlall K. Pandit

Manganlall K. Pandit

Manganlall K. Pandit came to the United States before 1917. Pandit was drafted in the U.S. Army on June 5, 1917. He trained at Camp Funston in Georgia. From April 1, 1918, to June 10, 1919, Pandit served overseas in Europe.  After the war, he settled down in Missouri. He also served in World War II with the 23 Transportation Squadron of the Army Air Forces.