TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation honored three veterans with the Medal of Patriotism during the August meeting of the Council of the Cherokee Nation.
Winifred Dudley, 100, of Owasso; Michael M. Smith, of Tulsa; and Michael D. Reese, of Owasso, were recognized by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., Deputy Principal Chief Bryan Warner and Secretary of Veterans Affairs S. Joe Crittenden, acknowledging their service and sacrifice to their country.
Dudley was born in 1922 in Westville to Earl and Mabel Whelchel. In 1944, during the height of World War II, she enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and later the Women’s Army Corps, which officially granted military status to the women who volunteered for the service. During her nearly two-year stint in the service, Dudley was stationed at several Army bases across the U.S., including in Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia and New Hampshire. She served in many capacities such as a clerical worker, a military postal worker and a chaplain’s assistant.
“I just want to thank you for everything. My great-grandmother came over on the Trail of Tears, and my grandmother was born in a covered wagon in the middle of the Red River,” Dudley said. “I am thankful to be a part of the Cherokee Nation, and this has been a great celebration tonight.”
Smith entered the Air Force in 1965, where he was sent to San Antonio, Texas, and then on to Biloxi, Mississippi, to become an information technology operator assigned to Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas. After completion of his training in IT, he was assigned to a permanent duty station at Karamursel Air Station in Turkey for 12 months. Smith returned stateside in 1967 to Victorville, California, with his Tactical Air Command 831st Squadron until being honorably discharged as an E4 sergeant in 1968.
Reese enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1986, when he was sent to San Diego, California, and then transferred to Camp Pendleton, where he became a motor vehicle operator. He was assigned to headquarters supply company 3rd Rank Division Marine Amphibious Brigade at Twenty-Nine Palms, California. In 1989, he was reassigned to headquarters supply company 3rd Recon Battalion 3rd Marine Division at Camp Schwab Okinawa, Japan. After his enlistment and tour overseas, Reese was honorably discharged in 1990 as an E3 lance corporal.
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, call 918-772-4166.