TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation honored four veterans with the Medal of Patriotism at the September Tribal Council meeting on Monday. 

Tommy Rayburn, 71, of Tahlequah; James Locut, 78, of Sand Springs; John Locut, 75, of Pryor; and Kristy McKie, 37, of Tahlequah, were recognized by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Secretary of Veterans Affairs S. Joe Crittenden, acknowledging their service and sacrifice to their country. 

Sgt. James Locut was born in 1941 in Tahlequah. He entered the Air Force in 1961 and became a jet aircraft Crew Chief Pilot Training Wing Specialist. Mr. Locut volunteered for overseas duty and was sent to France to the 42nd Tactical Recon Squadron. Mr. Locut trained as a flight engineer on a B 66 bomber aircraft along with the Cold War combat ready aircrew. He was honorably discharged in 1965. 

“I didn’t expect anything like this to come along,” he said. “I’m proud of the Nation, the United States, and I’m especially proud to be a Cherokee.” 

Spc. E-4 John L. Locut was born in 1943 in Vian. He joined the Army in 1960 and became a heavy weapons instructor on the 175 mm self-propelled Howitzers. He transferred to Vietnam with Company B, 6th Battalion, 14th Field Artillery Regiment. After serving two years in Vietnam, he returned to the United States and was discharged honorably in 1966. 

Pfc. Kristy D. McKie was born in 1982 in Tahlequah and enlisted in the Army in 2000. She was assigned to the 18th Airborne Corp at Fort Braggs, N.C., serving in the 126th Finance Battalion, processing travel pay for incoming soldiers, and finishing out her time in service processing soldiers’ separation pay. She was honorably discharged in 2005. 

Lt. Col. Tommy Rayburn was born in 1947 in Pratt, Kan. He first enlisted in the Army in 1966. In 1969, he was transferred to Vietnam to the B Battery, 5th Battalion, 42nd Artillery. While stationed in Vietnam he was attached to many other units including South Vietnam serving as an observer. While engaged in a firefight, he was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart upon returning to the U.S. to Fort Sill in Oklahoma, where he was honorably discharged in 1970. In 1972 he re-enlisted in the Reserves until he officially retired in 1997. 

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.