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Chickasaw World War II veteransin D.C. for Veterans’ Day

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WASHINGTON – Muffled gasps, soft sobs and the brush of shirt sleeves wiping away tears were the only audible sounds as dozens of people moved gingerly through dimly lit rooms of the Holocaust Memorial in Washington D.C.

Other rooms were punctuated with the shrill maniacal raving of the diabolical dictator whose misdeeds plunged the world into war.

Nine Chickasaw World War II veterans were among those visitors gazing at the ghastly images, reading the heart-wrenching stories, and wincing at the sound.

“These men and women placed the needs of their country and fellow citizens above their own needs in order to defend our freedom and our way of life,” said Bill Anoatubby, Governor of the Chickasaw Nation. “It was their bravery, sacrifice and devotion to service which turned the tide in that war and changed the course of history. While our gratitude is a small down payment on a debt we can never repay, we want them to know that we are eternally grateful for their service.”

The trip, funded by the Chickasaw Nation in appreciation for the service of the veterans, included a tour of the Capitol by staff of U.S. Representative Tom Cole.

Cole, who is also Chickasaw, met with the veterans on the steps of the Capitol.

“It’s amazingly moving to be here with people who risked life and limb for their country,” said Cole. “I’m so proud that the tribe gave them the opportunity to come here and understand just how profoundly grateful the country is for their service.

“I know I certainly wouldn’t have the opportunity to be in Congress if these men and women hadn’t put themselves on the line so we stayed a free country. All of us owe them everything.

“It’s great that they’re recognized,” he added. “It’s a good Chickasaw tradition to remember your defenders.”

Governor Emeritus Overton James, who served in a Navy Construction Battalion in World War II was among the veterans on the trip.

James was appointed Chickasaw Governor by President Kennedy in 1963. In 1971, he became the first governor elected by Chickasaw citizens since Oklahoma statehood in 1907.

Gov. James said the trip, which included a performance of classical compositions by Chickasaw students performed at the Kennedy Center, was a “wonderful experience.”

He added that during his time as governor no one imagined the tribe would one day be able to provide such opportunities for its elders and young people.

Other highlights of the trip included a visit to the World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, U.S. Navy Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, National Museum of the American Indian and more.

Chester Taylor, of Mesa, Arizona served in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). He said that the trip helped him renew the memories of his late Chickasaw grandmother.

He said that his grandmother led a life dedicated to the service of family and friends served as a great example to him.

Taylor, who was valedictorian of his high school class, in Arizona, put his education and his marriage on hold to join the military in 1942.

Morgan Wells of Ada, who served on a Navy landing craft which carried men to battles on the beaches, said he thought the trip was “awesome.”

He said that he was moved by the number of men, women and young people who had thanked him for his service to the country.

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