TULSA, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation’s eighth Cherokee Warrior Flight departed Thursday for Washington, D.C., with 10 veterans who served during the Vietnam War, Desert Storm or during peacetime. 

The Cherokee Nation funds the flight for Cherokee veterans to see the national war memorials erected in their honor at the nation’s capital.

“Though we will never be able to truly thank them enough or repay them for their sacrifices, providing this opportunity is just one small way to thank them,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “I’m always proud to say that Cherokees serve in the U.S. military at greater per-capita rates than any other ethnicities. These men and women going to Washington, D.C. served their country and their Cherokee Nation admirably.”

On Wednesday, a dinner was held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa to present the warriors with flight vests and caps and wish them safe travels.

“It’s an amazing sight to see these men and women who have proudly served our country get to enjoy such an unforgettable trip,” Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said. “These veterans are a blessing to the Cherokee Nation and I’m just grateful they get to experience this.”

James Hail, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, served in the Army during the Vietnam War. 

  • Cherokee Nation’s eighth Cherokee Warrior Flight departed Thursday

    Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. greets Army Veteran Clifford Lee Bark during Wednesday night's send-off banquet for the Cherokee Warrior Flight at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa.

“It’s very touching to be honored in this way,” Hail said. “I have served my country for two years in the Vietnam War, I am just pleased to be honored and recognized for that.”

Mary Ann Gregory, of Hulbert, served in the Air Force during peacetime.  

“What I am looking forward to most on this trip is seeing some of the monuments and the cherry blossom trees,” Gregory said. “I am so grateful to be going, this is such a great opportunity for so many of us.”

The Cherokee Nation veterans left from Tulsa International Airport Thursday morning and arrived 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. 

“This annual trip is such a blessing to so many of our Cherokee warriors, many of whom have said to us in the past that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them to experience,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs S. Joe Crittenden, a U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, said. “For me, it’s such an honor to get to experience this trip with fellow veterans.”

Veterans will return to Tulsa International Airport on Saturday, April 1.

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 2023 Cherokee Warrior Flight include: 

Vietnam War

James Franklin Hail, 77, Army, of Fort Smith, Arkansas

Gary Dan Davis, 75, Army, of Tahlequah

Phillip G. Daugherty, 74, Marines, of Cookson

Anthony Allon King, 75, Marines, of Fort Gibson

Jamie Cochran, 79, Army, of Tahlequah

Clifford Lee Bark, 70, Army, of Spavinaw

Deroin Peak Jr., 74, Marines, of Tulsa


Terry Joe Thompson, 64, Army, of Warner

Mary Ann Gregory, 62, Air Force, of Hulbert

Desert Storm

Jeffrey Scott Conseen, 54, Navy, of Locust Grove