WEST SILOAM SPRINGS, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation’s seventh annual Cherokee Warrior Flight departs Thursday for Washington, D.C., with 14 veterans who served during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War or Operation Enduring Freedom.

The Cherokee Nation funds the flight for Cherokee veterans to see the national war memorials erected in their honor at the nation’s capital. The annual flight was put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

“Cherokees serve in the U.S. military at greater per-capita rates than any other ethnicities and have fought in every major conflict and war since this country was founded,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “This trip is dedicated to the men and women who have fought to preserve our collective freedoms in this country, and to show our gratitude for their service.”

On Wednesday, a dinner was held at the Cherokee Hotel and Casino in West Siloam Springs to present the warriors with flight vests and caps and wish them safe travels.

“It is such an honor to see the Cherokee Nation continuing its support for our Cherokee warriors,” said Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. “This is a moving, memorable experience for those who participate each year, and I know it’s a trip they will never forget.”

Michelle Morrison, of Stilwell, is a Navy veteran who served during Operation Enduring Freedom. She is the first woman veteran to take part in a Cherokee Warrior Flight.

“I was so excited when they called and said I could go this year,” Morrison said. “I’m glad I could take the opportunity to go. I’m really humbled.”

Joe Cummings, of Wagoner, served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. The Cherokee Warrior Flight is his first time to visit Washington, D.C.

“I’ve been trying to go to D.C. since I got out of Vietnam. I’m ready to go,” Cummings said. “I’m excited to see all the memorials and Arlington National Cemetery.”

The Cherokee Nation veterans will leave from Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Thursday morning and arrive in Washington, D.C. just a few hours later. During the three-day trip, they will tour the World War II Memorial, Korean War Veteran’s Memorial, Vietnam Wall Memorial, and a number of other sites. On Veterans Day, they will also participate in the National Native American Veterans Memorial procession and dedication ceremony at the National Museum of the American Indian.

“It means so much to be part of a nation that honors our veterans and the sacrifices they’ve made through the years,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs S. Joe Crittenden, a U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam War. “This trip is just one way of thanking them for what they’ve done for our country.”

Veterans will return to Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12.

The Cherokee Warrior Flight is similar to the national honor flight organization’s goal of helping veterans, willing and able, to see the memorials dedicated to honor their service.

Veterans participating in the 2022 Cherokee Warrior Flight include:

World War II
Paul Max Dudley, 99, Army, of Bixby
Paul Fox, 95, Army, of Bartlesville

Korean War
Jewell Dean Garrison, 91, Army, of Oklahoma City

Vietnam War
Richard Ferrel Acorn, 87, Army, of Stilwell
Larry Dean Chandler, 73, Army, of Claremore
Daniel Ray Tanner, 73, Army, of Tahlequah
Johnny Lee Callison, 77, Air Force, of Claremore
Edward C. Ketcher, 75, Army, of Stilwell
Joe Kenneth Cummings, 75, Air Force, of Wagoner
Larry Dale Snyder, 75, Army, of Westville
Frank Cecil Collins, 62, Army, of Fresno, California
James Robert Nelson, 77, Army, of Muldrow
Roger Allen Young, 81, Army, of Van Buren, Arkansas

Operation Enduring Freedom
Michelle Lynn Morrison, 47, Navy, of Stilwell