WEST SILOAM SPRINGS – The Cherokee Nation celebrated 14 veterans with a farewell banquet for its seventh Cherokee Warrior Flight on Nov. 9 at the Cherokee Casino and West Siloam Springs Hotel.
The selected veterans served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and Operation Enduring Freedom and departed Nov. 10 for Washington, D.C. to view the National War Memorials built in their honor . The annual flight was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
“One of the things that strikes me is how the Cherokees have stepped up and served throughout history,” Senior Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. told the larger population. That says a lot about the Cherokee people.
At the banquet, each veteran received a vest to represent the era they served and a cap.
They spent the next three days touring the nation’s capital, visiting sites such as Arlington National Cemetery, the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Vietnam.
CN citizen Richard Acorn, 87, of Stilwell, served in the US Army from 1957 at the end of the Korean War and the start of the Vietnam War. He was discharged in 1963. He served as a supply clerk in Germany for the two years he served.
“It’s been so long since I’ve been there,” Acorn said. “All these people fought for our country, and we must stand together. I had the chance to return home. Some of them did not return home.
Michelle Morrison, 47, also of Stilwell, was the first female veteran to take part in the Cherokee Warrior Flight. Morrison served in the Navy Reserves.
“I was activated in Norfolk, Virginia for United States Fleet Forces there in 2016, and I was a lieutenant officer, and served as an action officer in the Great Campaign. Green Fleet. This is where they were looking at different alternatives for fuel and energy efficiency so their ships could go longer and fight longer,” she said.
Morrison added that she didn’t expect to be selected for the Warrior Flight so soon, considering that in the past, older veterans were selected to go first.
“I feel very honored. I hope to be able to represent other women who will take this trip later. I have served with many (other women). My shipmates were women. I want to thank a companion who couldn’t make that trip this year. His name is Ryan Tiger, he was from Stilwell and we lost him last year,” she said.
Morrison said that despite being a woman and an Indigenous person, during her service the Navy was very inclusive.
“The Navy and Army when I served were very inclusive and very diverse,” she said. “They’ve always had different events, like if it’s Native American Heritage Month or Hispanic or African American Month (month), they’ve always had those types of activities because overall they’re represented by everyone in America.”
On Veteran’s Day, November 11, veterans participated in the National Native American Veterans Memorial Procession. More than 1,700 Indigenous veterans took part in the procession along the National Mall, from the museum to the scene of the ceremony in front of the United States Capitol. Veterans also took part in a dedication ceremony for the National Native American Veterans Memorial at the National Museum of the American Indian.
“I remember that first warrior flight when Chief Baker was in office, Secretary Crittenden was Deputy Chief Crittenden then, and it was just a really powerful moment, I think for all of us, to see our warriors go to Washington , DC, to see the monuments that are truly dedicated to them and to have the shared experience they deserve. We’re glad he’s back,” Hoskin said.
Veterans who participated in the 2022 Cherokee Warrior Flight include:
The Second World War
Paul Max Dudley, 99, Army, from Bixby
Paul Fox, 95, Army, from Bartlesville
Jewell Dean Garrison, 91, Army, from Oklahoma City
Richard Ferrel Acorn, 87, Army, of Stilwell
Larry Dean Chandler, 73, Army, of Claremore
Daniel Ray Tanner, 73, Army, from Tahlequah
Johnny Lee Callison, 77, Air Force, from Claremore
Edward C. Ketcher, 75, Army, of Stilwell
Joe Kenneth Cummings, 75, Air Force, of Wagoner
Larry Dale Snyder, 75, Army, of Westville
Frank Cecil Collins, 62, Army, of Fresno, Calif.
James Robert Nelson, 77, Army, of Muldrow
Roger Allen Young, 81, Army, of Van Buren, Arkansas
Operation Enduring Freedom
Michelle Lynn Morrison, 47, Navy, from Stilwell