The Cherokee Nation honored two U.S. Army veterans and a Navy veteran with the Cherokee Medal of Patriotism during the December Tribal Council meeting.
Robert Gene Ketcher, 72, of Stilwell, Oklahoma; Samuel W. O’Fields, 80, of Claremore, Oklahoma; and Arthur “Watie” Bell, 80, of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, received a medal and plaque on December 15. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden acknowledged the veterans’ service to the country.
Spc. Ketcher was born on January 14, 1942, to Ralph and Maida Ketcher. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on March 16, 1966. After completing his training, he was deployed to Vietnam on several search and destroy missions using 81mm mortar guns. While in Vietnam, he became squad leader and reached the rank of specialist with the 1st Calvary Division.
“It’s by God’s grace that I’m here. I’d rather fight over there than let them come over here,” Ketcher said while receiving the award. “I’ve been blessed by my dear Lord.”
Pfc. O’Fields was born on March 10, 1934, to Joseph and Ollie O’Fields. He joined the Army on June 8, 1956, and trained at Fort Ord, California. After his training, he was sent to Baumberg, Germany, as part of a tactical operations and equipment unit. He received an honorable discharge on June 20, 1962.
Airman Bell was born January 3, 1934, to George and Dana Bell. He joined the U.S. Navy on July 25, 1951, and trained at the Naval Training Center in San Diego. He served as base security and a guard dog trainer until 1953. He later completed airman training in Norman and reported to the USS Tarawa. He helped refuel aircraft on the flight and hanger decks and maintained the inert gas room. He was honorably discharged from the Navy in November 1955 and joined the Army Reserve, where he served eight years.
Spc. Terry J. Crow, 47, of Tahlequah, was also honored but could not attend.
Crow was born on October 4, 1966, to T.J. and Virginia Crow. He enlisted in the Army in January of 1989 and did basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey. After training, he was sent to Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland to become a track vehicle mechanic. He was sent to Iraq as part of Operation Desert Storm, where he refueled vehicles in the 3rd Armored Division. Crow was honorably discharged in March 1992.
Each month the Cherokee Nation recognizes Cherokee service men and women for their sacrifices and as a way to demonstrate the high regard in which all veterans are held by the tribe. Native Americans, including Cherokees, are thought to have more citizens serving per capita than any other ethnic group, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. To nominate a veteran who is a Cherokee Nation citizen, call (918) 453-5541 or (800) 256-0671, ext. 5541.