group to D.C. for Veterans Day
warriors were honored by the Chickasaw Nation with a five-day
trip to Washington, D.C. Nov. 9-13. All served during the
Vietnam War. They gathered for a group photo in front of the
National Archives which hosted special attractions concerning
the Vietnam conflict over the Veterans Day holiday. Chickasaw
veterans include, front row from left, Gary Cooper, George
Davis, Bonnie Moore and Johnny Young. Second row from left,
William Hilton, Richard Nichols, Donald Bourland, Larry Paul,
Larry Hogland and James Priest. Back row from left, Don Goldsby,
Durward Rushforth, Barry Allen, Robert Nichols, Bill Green,
Robert Andrews and Ronald Allison. These veterans are from
Washington, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi,
Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia and Illinois.
WASHINGTON, D.C. Several Chickasaw Vietnam War veterans
have vivid memories of the disdain some citizens of a divided nation
exhibited toward them almost 50 years ago.
They are seeing a different attitude now.
The group of 17 Chickasaw warriors witnessed the 35th anniversary
commemoration of the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial in Washington
during a tour of the nation's capital sponsored by the Chickasaw
Nation to honor their service, dedication and bravery.
During the memorial, Chickasaw veterans received thanks for
their service and sacrifice by top military officials, Department
of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and passersby who swarmed the area
located immediately northeast of the Lincoln Memorial on the National
Governor Bill Anoatubby said Veterans Day should serve as a
reminder to recognize the commitment
of those who serve in the armed forces.
"It is important to acknowledge the great debt we owe to the
men and women who place their own safety and security on the line
to defend our freedom," Gov. Anoatubby said. "While Veterans Day
offers a unique opportunity to personally thank these individuals
for their service, it is always fitting to express our appreciation
for the work they do to protect our way of life."
For retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Durward "Dee" Rushforth, a Fairfax,
Virginia, resident and Purple Heart recipient, it was an opportunity
"I volunteered (for) two tours in Vietnam," he said. "I did
one (tour) for myself and the other for somebody who chose not to
Lt. Col. Rushforth and his wife, Barbara, moved 17 times over
the first 15 years of his military career. Today, those memories
evoke a smile. When it was occurring, smiles were few.
After 22 years of service, Lt. Col. Rushforth retired from active
military duty. He continued working in the Pentagon for a private
contractor. He could have died Sept. 11, 2001 when terrorists flew
a passenger jet into the building. He had been assigned new office
space just three months before the attack. Two Chickasaw warriors
served as a Navy hospital corpsman and an Army medic different
titles for the same job. They treated wounded soldiers in the field.
It is one of the most dangerous duties a soldier can be assigned.
"The enemy had three primary targets," Donald Bourland, of Monroe,
Wash., said. "They (targeted) commissioned officers, radio communication
specialists and medical personnel."
Mr. Bourland served in the U.S. Navy and was called a "corpsman."
Ronald Allison was in the U.S. Army and was a "medic." The soldiers
called medics "Doc." Mr. Allison served from 1966-69. Mr. Bourland
served in combat from November 1966-67, but did not leave the military
Bonnie Moore is shy concerning her Vietnam War-era service,
but received a rousing round of applause from her fellow Chickasaw
warriors when the group visited Arlington National Cemetery.
It was there they learned Mrs. Moore was included in The Women
in Military Service for America Memorial. It is the nation's only
major memorial honoring all servicewomen, past and present.
Mrs. Moore, of Edwardsville, Ill., is joined in the memorial
by late Chickasaw warrior Beaulah Shavney, a Women's Army Auxiliary
Corps (WAAC) veteran of World War II. Mrs. Shavney passed away in
February 2014. Mrs. Moore was stationed at Ft. Jackson, S.C.; Ft.
Sheridan, Ill., and Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., entering the service
in 1966 and completing her duty in 1971.
Three Chickasaw warriors served aboard aircraft carriers and
another served on a Nitroclass ammunition ship. Robert "Bob" Nichols,
of Garland, Texas, was stationed on the USS Kitty Hawk; Gary Cooper,
a resident of Robinson, Texas, was aboard the USS Lexington; and
Barry Allen, of Owasso, Okla., served on the USS Haleakala.
William Hilton, a Lake City, Florida, resident, served four
tours in Vietnam. He joined at age 17 when his mother signed the
papers for him to enlist. Mr. Hilton was aboard the USS Hancock
and served 20 years in the military, retiring in 1985.
Another U.S. Navy veteran, James Priest, was in the Navy Seabees
and served as a draftsman in Yokosuka, Japan. Don Goldsby, a Goldsby,
Okla., resident, served in the Navy as well for one year. His ancestors
founded the community of Goldsby. He was stationed in Jacksonville,
Florida, serving in the Atlantic Fleet from 1967-68.
Larry Paul, a Georgetown, S.C., resident, was the only Marine
represented in the 2017 class of Chickasaw veteran honorees. He
was a sergeant and served from 1966-72. He saw action in Vietnam
U.S. Marines are part of the U.S. Navy. Sgt. Paul's immense
sense of humor, coupled with his pride in having served, persuaded
him to join all U.S. Navy veterans at the Navy Memorial for a group
photo. His fellow brothers-in-arms teased him goodheartedly about
being included in the "Navy" photo.
Larry Hogland, a Corinth, Miss., resident, served from 1966-70
and was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal. Mr. Hogland did
a tour of duty with specificity. He was involved from 11-2-1967
to 11-2-1968. Now retired, he spends as much time on the golf course
as he can.
Several Oklahoma veterans saw action in locations far from Vietnam.
Bill Green, of Goldsby, was an aviation mechanic in Guam, Okinawa
and Thailand in addition to a couple of stops in European bases.
He was stationed at Mather Air Force Base in California serving
Johnny Young, of Marietta, Okla., saw action in Vietnam with
the U.S. Army. He joined in 1964 and was honorably discharged in
1971. He was stationed at of Ft. Ord, Calif., during basic training.
George Davis, who resides in Blanchard, Okla., served his country
at Ft. Sill, Okla., as a sergeant in the U.S. Army. He trained soldiers
for combat from 1966-68.
Richard Nichols, of Achille, Okla., served both in the U.S.
Navy and the U.S. Army Reserve. During Vietnam, his military activity
began in 1966 and ended in 1970. He joined the Army Reserve in 1977
and continued serving the country until 1996.
Chickasaw warrior Robert Andrews served 38 years in the U.S.
Army, from 1966 to 2004. He was stationed in bases throughout America
and Germany during this time. Capt. Andrews was severely injured
in Vietnam when the helicopter he was flying ran out of fuel and
crashed. He spent six days alone in the midst of the enemy before