Cherokee Nation honors veterans in December

12/20/2013


Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden and Tribal Councilor Julia Coates present Isaac Holland with the Cherokee Medal of Patriotism. Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Tribal Councilor Jack Baker also thanked Holland for his service.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation honored four veterans with the Cherokee Medal of Patriotism at its December Tribal Council meeting.

Kenneth Cowart, 67, of Vian; Ralph Walkingstick, 80, of Hulbert; Isaac Holland, 53, of Chillicothe, Mo.; and R.B. “Brass” Breshears, 84, of Tahlequah, received a medal and plaque from Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, acknowledging their service to the country.

“As a Cherokee citizen, it’s an honor the tribe thinks enough of me to award this medal for something that at that time, when we were coming back from Vietnam, the U.S. wanted nothing to do with,” Cowart said. “I feel honored and privileged the Cherokee Nation would do something like this for me.

Spc. Cowart was born July 23, 1946, in Blackgum, Okla., to Kenneth Clyde and Lillian Cowart. He graduated from Catoosa High School and was drafted into the Army in 1967. He was sent to Fort Polk, La., for basic training and then Fort Sill, Okla., for basic field artillery training. He was deployed to South Vietnam in 1968 with the 25th Infantry Division, 2nd Battalion, 77th Artillery for one year. After returning to the United States, he went to Fort Hood, Texas, until he separated from the Army. He earned several commendations, including the Vietnam Service Medal and Vietnam Gallantry Cross. In 1981, Cowart went to work for the State of Oklahoma where he worked for 23 years. He retired in 1999 and now lives in Vian.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Walkingstick was born March 25, 1933, to Ben Walkingstick and Juanita Kirby, in the Baron community of Adair County. He joined the Navy after graduating from Westville High School in 1952. He completed basic training at Camp Elliot Naval Training Center in San Diego and Combat Airman School at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash. He was first assigned to search and rescue duty in Kodiak, Ala., then received additional training in Norman, Okla., and Memphis, Tenn. Walkingstick finished his military career doing reconnaissance missions for Patrol Squadron NINE “Golden Eagles” in California, Alaska, Hawaii and Japan during the Cold War. He retired from the Navy in 1956, having been awarded the National Defense Medal, Combat Aircrew Wings and Good Conduct Medal. Walkingstick earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with an emphasis in engineering, physics and mathematics from the University of Arkansas.

Maj. Holland was born April 23, 1960, in Coffeyville, Kan., into a military family, with his father and grandfather having served before him. His career began in 1979 with basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. He worked the flight lines as an aircraft fuel specialist in Spain, Delaware and Kansas. He completed his Air Force obligation, reaching the rank of sergeant in 1986. Holland enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1986 and was sent to Fort Benning, Ga., for Infantry Officer’s Candidate School, where he graduated as a second lieutenant. He served tours in South Korea, Spain and Hawaii and was the Garrison Company commander at Fort Knox, Ky. He also served as the senior finance officer for occupied forces and NATO forces in Haiti in 1995. After more than 22 years, Holland was honorably discharged in 2001 from the U.S. Army. His awards and medals include the Joint Service Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Armed Forces Services Medal. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas. He attained his master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Colorado. He currently serves as the city administrator for the town of Chillicothe, Mo.

Capt. Breshears was born on Dec. 11, 1929, in Muskogee and was raised on a dairy farm. He graduated from Warner High School in May 1947. The following year he enlisted in the Marine Corp. He graduated from boot camp in November 1947 in San Diego, Calif. He was then sent to Guam as a member of the Special Forces. His unit, 1st Marine Division, 1st Engineer Battalion, Company A, rotated back to the U.S. in 1948, and the following year he was sent to the front lines in South Korea. In May 1950 he married Mae Lea Smith. On his first tour in Washington, D.C., he participated in the inauguration of President Eisenhower, and on his second tour he was senior non-commissioned officer at President Kennedy’s funeral. He retired with the rank of captain in 1969. His awards include a Joint Service Commendation Medal, Combat Action Ribbon and Navy Presidential Unit Citation.
Cherokee Nation News Release
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