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Cherokee Nation seventh annual Cherokee Warrior Flight

Fourteen Cherokee veterans joined Cherokee Nation leaders Wednesday night for a send-off banquet in West Siloam. Cherokee Nation sent the veterans to Washington, D.C., Thursday morning as part of the tribe’s seventh annual Cherokee Warrior Flight.

Friday, November 11, 2022 - The Cherokee Nation’s seventh annual Cherokee Warrior Flight departed Thursday for Washington, D.C., with 14 veterans who served during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War or Operation Enduring Freedom.

The Cherokee Nation funds the flight for Cherokee veterans to see the national war memorials erected in their honor at the nation’s capital. The annual flight was put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

“Cherokees serve in the U.S. military at greater per-capita rates than any other ethnicities and have fought in every major conflict and war since this country was founded,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “This trip is dedicated to the men and women who have fought to preserve our collective freedoms in this country, and to show our gratitude for their service.”

On Wednesday, a dinner was held at the Cherokee Hotel and Casino in West Siloam Springs to present the warriors with flight vests and caps and wish them safe travels.

“It is such an honor to see the Cherokee Nation continuing its support for our Cherokee warriors,” said Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. “This is a moving, memorable experience for those who participate each year, and I know it’s a trip they will never forget.”

Michelle Morrison, of Stilwell, is a Navy veteran who served during Operation Enduring Freedom. She is the first woman veteran to take part in a Cherokee Warrior Flight.

“I was so excited when they called and said I could go this year,” Morrison said. “I’m glad I could take the opportunity to go. I’m really humbled.”

The Cherokee Nation veterans left from Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Thursday morning and arrived in Washington, D.C. just a few hours later. During the three-day trip, they will tour the World War II Memorial, Korean War Veteran’s Memorial, Vietnam Wall Memorial, and a number of other sites. On Veterans Day, they will also participate in the National Native American Veterans Memorial procession and dedication ceremony at the National Museum of the American Indian.

“It means so much to be part of a nation that honors our veterans and the sacrifices they’ve made through the years,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs S. Joe Crittenden, a U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam War. “This trip is just one way of thanking them for what they’ve done for our country.”

Veterans will return to Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12.

The Cherokee Warrior Flight is similar to the national honor flight organization’s goal of helping veterans, willing and able, to see the memorials dedicated to honor their service.

Veterans participating in the 2022 Cherokee Warrior Flight include:

World War II

Paul Max Dudley, 99, Army, of Bixby

Paul Fox, 95, Army, of Bartlesville

Korean War

Jewell Dean Garrison, 91, Army, of Oklahoma City

Vietnam War

Richard Ferrel Acorn, 87, Army, of Stilwell

Larry Dean Chandler, 73, Army, of Claremore

Daniel Ray Tanner, 73, Army, of Tahlequah

Johnny Lee Callison, 77, Air Force, of 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, California

James Robert Nelson, 77, Army, of Muldrow

Roger Allen Young, 81, Army, of Van Buren, Arkansas

Operation Enduring Freedom

Michelle Lynn Morrison, 47, Navy, of Stilwell

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