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10 Cherokee veterans honored with Warrior Flight to U.S. capital

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Cherokee Veterans prepare to board a shuttle on September 9th at Cherokee Hotel & Casino West Siloam Springs to head to the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport for a flight to Washington D.C. as part of the 6th Annual Cherokee Warrior Flight. As they left the hotel, employees greeted them with signs, American flags, and cheers. - Will Chavez / Cherokee Phoenix

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Army veteran Claude Stover, 72, of Oaks, left, and Navy veteran Charles Lane, 83, of Claremore, take part in a guided tour of the U.S. Capitol on September 9th in Washington D.C. - Will Chavez / Cherokee Phoenix

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Army veteran Billie Tritthart, 71, of Miami, Oklahoma, and his wife Winnie leave the U.S. Capitol after taking a guided tour of it on September 9th. - Will Chavez / Cherokee Phoenix

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Navy veteran Charles Lane, 83, of Claremore, right, walks with Cherokee Nation Secretary of Veterans Affairs S. Joe Crittenden, a U.S. Navy veteran, after touring the U.S. Capitol. - Will Chavez / Cherokee Phoenix

WASHINGTON – Ten Cherokee veterans visited Washington, D.C., Sept. 9-11 as part of the Cherokee Nation’s sixth annual Cherokee Warrior Flight.

Collectively, the 10 veterans served during the Korean and Vietnam wars. During their three days in the nation’s capital, they visited war memorials erected in honor of military veterans and visited the White House, the U.S. Capitol and the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian. They also visited Arlington National Cemetery where they witnessed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

“We’ve seen a lot of interesting stuff. I’m enjoying my time, and I’m enjoying the people that we’re herewith. We’ve met a lot of good people, and we’ve got a lot of tours to go to,” Navy veteran Kenneth Golden, 70, of Stilwell, said during a visit to the U.S. Capitol.

Attending a dinner for the 10 veterans on Sept. 8, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said it was remarkable how Cherokee people have stepped up to serve in this country’s military the past 200-plus years despite the tribe’s complicated history and relationship with the United States.

“I’m proud of my Cherokee warrior brothers for standing up when the United States needed them. They gave it their all, and some of them paid the ultimate price,” Army veteran Charles Brave, 86, of Hulbert, said.

The CN has taken 50 Cherokee veterans on the Cherokee Warrior Flight since 2014.

“I’m proud that we are part of a Nation that has the heart and the gratitude for the veterans and the sacrifices they’ve made through the years,” CN Secretary of Veterans Affairs S. Joe Crittenden, a U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, said.

During the Sept. 8 dinner at the Cherokee Hotel & Casino West Siloam Springs, the 10 veterans were presented with custom flight vests and caps with the Cherokee and U.S. flags embroidered on them. The Cherokee Warrior Flight is similar to the national Honor Flight organization’s goal of helping all veterans, willing and able, to see the memorials dedicated to honor their service. With more than 4,000 military veterans who are CN citizens, the CN is replicating that experience for its people. Native Americans serve at a higher rate in the military than any other ethnic group, according to veteranaid.org.

Participating in the 2019 Cherokee Warrior Flight were Korean War veterans Selbert Taylor, 87, Marines, of Pryor; Charles Brave, 86, Army, of Hulbert; George Green, 85, Army, of Claremore; and Vietnam War veterans Billy Cecil, 71, Army, of Park Hill; Billie Tritthart, 71, Army, of Miami, Oklahoma; David Hall, 67, Army, of Wister; Claude Stover, 72, Army, of Oaks; Kenneth Golden, 70, Navy, of Stilwell; Charles Lane, 83, Navy, of Claremore; and Sammy Carey, 65, Army, of Hulbert.

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