The Cherokee Nation honored three Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans with the Cherokee Medal of Patriotism during its Tribal Council meeting on February 26.
Dustin M. Butler, 35, of Tahlequah; Mitchell E. Guinn, 49, of Okemah; and Gregory S. Phillips, 46, of Clarksville, Arkansas, received a medal and plaque from Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden and Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., acknowledging their service to the country.
Sgt. Butler was born April 24, 1979, in Tahlequah to Merry Carter and Philip Butler. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on November 11, 1999, and was activated in 2004 to provide support during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served on a mobile strike team and was honorably discharged in 2005. Butler then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and was stationed in Tulsa before returning to Iraq in 2007 with the 138th Fighter Wing Division. He was medically discharged in 2013. During his career, he earned the Combat Action Ribbon, Air Force Longevity of Service Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal and more. In January, Butler was one of 10 veterans nationally selected to receive an all-expense paid trip to Super Bowl XLIX from Operation Enduring Respect.
“I think it’s awesome that the Cherokee Nation takes care of its veterans the way it does,” said Butler. “It’s great to be recognized by anyone for my service, but it’s a real honor to have my tribe go out of the way to recognize me like that.”
Staff Sgt. Guinn was born April 8, 1965, in Okemah to Ray and Shirley Guinn. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on December 7, 2003. During his service, he held military occupation specialties in unit supply as a construction engineer and was stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was honorably discharged on October 31, 2014. Guinn earned several commendations, including the Global War on Terrorism Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon and Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star.
Spc. Phillips was born on February 19, 1969, in Clarksville, Arkansas, to Jerry and Nora Phillips. He enlisted in the U.S. Army National Guard on March 26, 1986, and served as general construction operator and engineer vehicle track operator during his 20-year career. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom from October 2003 until April 2005. Phillips retired and received an honorable discharge in April 2006. Some of his medals include the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Award.
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) 772-4166.