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Navy plane decorated with Native tradition

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NAVAJO NATION, N.M. - Chris Soce, Din?/ K'iwa, or Navajo and Santo Domingo Pueblo Indian from N.M. is serving in the Navy with the Vaqron 131 Lancers, deployed out of Washington state. Soce, a plane captain for EA-6B Prowlers Electronic Attack Aircraft, plans to become an aviation electrician.

Soce has been in the Navy for two years, and is grateful to represent the Native American community as the only Native in his squadron. He has one daughter, 6, Hehanniwin Wankinyan. She is his pride and joy, and he sends her his love from the Persian Gulf. He also sends his love to family and friends throughout the great Southwest.

Soce was recently honored with putting a mural on the squadron jets. It is a traditional way of telling a modern story and the part his command has in this war. The initial drawing was in chalk and now the command wants to put it on permanently. Soce explained that traditionally ancestors would paint their "war ponies" before going into battle. He chose ancient Native symbols with modern meaning. The spots on the plane are hailstones which represent unstoppable power. The lightning symbol depicts the power of the thunder beings. The crosses under the bolt are fire symbols representing the attacks. The stars are just that, stars. Ironically, the plane was slightly damaged by hailstones, like the ones depicted in the mural.

Soce has been a northern traditional dancer for 17 years and holds his culture sacred. He has an undying respect for all Native cultures and would like to thank all the people who send their prayers, and share their support. He added, "I don't expect anything, but to ensure the safety of my nation, and this is my part here. I am thankful to the creator, all my relations. It is a good day to die, and it is a better day to live."