At its June meeting the Cherokee Nation bestowed the Cherokee Medal of Patriotism on three World War II veterans.
The Native warriors honored were Andrew Jackson Crittenden, 95, of McAlester, Oklahoma; Cooie Meigs Jr., 86, of Park Hill, Oklahoma; and Arch Vann, 89, of Stilwell, Oklahoma.
According to a Cherokee Nation press release Crittenden was born in 1917 to John and Annie Crittenden. He joined the National Guard at the age of 23 and served in the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, also known as the Thunderbirds.
“When we went into war we knew what we were fighting for, for our country,” Crittenden said at the ceremony.
One of Crittenden’s highlights was to witness Gen. George S. Patton’s speech on June 21, 1943. His service honors include a Silver Star, two Bronze stars and six service stars. Crittenden’s division served 511 days of full combat, longer than any other division. He returned home in 1945 as a staff sergeant.
Meigs Jr. was born to Gertie and Cooie Meigs Sr. in Cherokee County. Following three semesters at Northeastern State University, Meigs enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943 becoming a rifleman. While serving in Peleliu, Palau and Okinawa, Japan, Meigs was wounded twice by Japanese grenade fragments.
“The first grenade knocked my helmet off and two pieces went through the steel part of my helmet and lodged into the fiber on the inside,” Meigs said at the ceremony.
According to the release, “upon his return in 1946, Meigs was awarded the Silver Star and two Purple Hearts.”
Vann was born in 1922 to White Vann and Jennie Bunch and raised in the community of Rock Fence. He was drafted at 19 into the U.S. Navy and stationed in San Diego, California. During preparations for deployment overseas, Vann was treated for medical problems and unable to go – he was later honorably discharged.
To nominate a veteran for recognition, call (918) 453-5541 or (800) 256-0671, ext. 5541. To be eligible, the veteran must be a Cherokee Nation citizen.