Homer Yahnozha was born in captivity at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He was the youngest son of Edwin Yahnozha, who in 1941 was over 80 years old. Homer's father (far left in photo, C. S. Fly, 1886), then simply known as Yahnozha, fought with Geronimo and was a prisoner of war with him. Edwin's sister was Geronimo's fourth wife. In 1913, the family was allowed to leave Fort Sill for the Mescalero Apache Reservation in New Mexico.
Homer Yahnozha was Chief of the Mescalero Tribal Council when he was drafted. While in training at Fort Bliss, Texas in April 1941, Yahnozha was asked what he liked best about military training, his reply was, “I haven't missed a meal yet.”
From January to April 1941, regular meals became a thing of the past. The men were living on severely reduced rations and fighting tropical diseases as well as the enemy.
Remembering the April 9, 1941 surrender of Bataan, Charlie James of F Battery 200th Coast Artillery, told Dorothy Cave for her “Beyond Courage”:
“Chief Yahnozha waved a mosquito net to surrender, and the dang Japs opened up and killed a bunch of Filipinos. Me and that Indian beat it back to the brush like two scared cottontails.
“I was laying where I'd hid my rifle when this tank came around a curve, with a Jap standing in the turret. I drew a sight on his chest.”
“'You shoot', Chief said, 'and they'll streak through here and kill us every one.'”
Reluctantly James eased the rifle back to its hiding place.