(L to R) Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Tribal Councilor Julia Coates, U.S. Navy veteran Jacky Dan England, Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Tribal Councilor Jack Baker.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation honored two Vietnam veterans and an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran with the Cherokee Medal of Patriotism during the July Tribal Council meeting.
Jacky Dan England, 71, of Talihina; Benjamin Ewing, 28, of Owasso; and Russell James Grass, 70, of Walnut Creek, California, received a medal and plaque on July 14. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden acknowledged the veterans’ service to the country.
Seaman England was born Dec. 15, 1942, to Daniel and Mary England, in Claremore. In 1961, England graduated from Buffalo Valley High School and joined the U.S. Navy in 1963. He completed basic training in San Diego and later served aboard the USS Valley Forge. England served two tours in Vietnam and received an honorable discharge in 1969. He still has an original telegram of his orders. He received numerous honors, including the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. He currently lives in Talihina with his wife, Jackie, and has one daughter, Ashley Gravitt.
“I thank the Cherokee Nation for this honor,” said England, chief of the Talihina Police Department. “It is a great honor for me to be standing up here receiving this award.”
Cpl. Ewing was born Dec. 20, 1984, to Danny and Monta Ewing, in Tulsa. After graduating from Owasso High School in 2003, Ewing enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and completed basic training in San Diego. He completed small arms repair school at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Baltimore. He served in the Marine Corps Security Force company in Bangor, Washington. From July 2004 to November 2007, Ewing supervised the armory that kept the Marines equipped to perform high security operations. After being honorably discharged in 2007, he worked as an explosive materials handler on Naval Magazine Indian Island in Port Hadlock, Washington, until 2010. Ewing currently lives in Owasso and attends Oklahoma State University, majoring in marketing and operations management.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Grass was born Dec. 22, 1943, to Thomas W. Grass and Ella Standingwater, in Claremore. Grass graduated from Oaks Indian Mission School in 1962 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He completed basic training in San Diego. He completed Navy Supply School and was then assigned to the USS Castor, a supply ship in Yokosuka, Japan. In 1965, Grass was reassigned to the USS Markab. He received an honorable discharge in 1966. Grass worked for 47 years with the Pacific Gas and Electric Company in San Francisco as a line construction foreman.
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, please call 918-453-5541 or 800-256-0671, ext. 5541.
Cherokee Nation News Release
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