Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Tribal Councilor Bryan Warner, U.S. Army Air Force veteran Jack Shamblin and Principal Chief Bill John Baker.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation honored two World War II veterans and a U.S. Air Force veteran with the Medal of Patriotism at the August Tribal Council meeting on Tuesday.
Jack Shamblin, 90, of Roland; Wayne Kellehan, 92, of Claremore; and Darin McCarty, 51, of Owasso, were recognized by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, acknowledging their service and sacrifice to their country.
Pvt. Shamblin was born in 1927 in Roland and drafted into the U.S. Army Air Force in July of 1945. Shamblin completed basic training at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas and then relocated to Geiger Field in Spokane, Washington, to begin six months of machine gunner training. After training, he deployed to Wiesbaden, Germany, where he guarded prisoners of war during the rebuild of the airfield that had been destroyed by bombing. While in Germany, Shamblin said he witnessed some of the most terrible parts of the concentration camps and the rulers that he and his fellow American troops were fighting against. Shamblin was discharged in 1947. He is the grandfather of Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler, who was posthumously awarded the Cherokee Nation Medal of Patriotism in 2015.
“I want to thank the Cherokee Nation for what they have done for my family and for our health care. It is an honor to be an Okie and to be a part of the Cherokee Nation,” said Shamblin.
Cpl. Kellehan was born in 1925 in Claremore and drafted into the U.S. Army in October of 1944. Kellehan completed basic training at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in Little Rock, Arkansas, before moving on to advanced infantry training at Fort Ord in California, where he was certified as a rifle sharpshooter. After infantry training, Kellehan was stationed in the Philippines aboard the SS Richard Montgomery. Kellehan and his company liberated the Philippines and were preparing to attack a Japanese beach head on, when the atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima. Kellehan was returning to the United States aboard the SS Sheepshead Bay Victory when a storm struck the ship and left soldiers, supplies and weapons scattered and injured. Kellehan spent three weeks in the hospital and was given a 30-day leave to recover from his injuries. He was discharged in 1946 and later worked for Spartan and American Airlines. After 32 years at American Airlines, Kellehan retired in 1983.
Sgt. McCarty was born in 1966 in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in August of 1984, right after graduating high school. McCarty completed basic training in San Antonio, Texas, and completed tech school training as an administration specialist at Kessler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. In December of 1984, he reported to Bremerhaven, Germany, where he served at a remote Air Force radar site. While at Bremerhaven, he received training in security; in combat with a proficiency in small arms and hand-to-hand combat; in rapid deployment training using trucks, helicopters and air drops; and as a missile strike specialist. En route to an early morning recall training exercise, McCarty was involved in a high speed car accident leaving him with numerous injuries. He was honorably discharged in 1986.
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 918-772-4166.
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