MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 2, 2014

Cherokees present patriotism medals to four veterans


— TAHLEQUAH — The Cherokee Nation honored four veterans with the Cherokee Medal of Patriotism at its December Tribal Council meeting.

Kenneth Cowart, 67, of Vian; Ralph Walkingstick, 80, of Hulbert; Isaac Holland, 53, of Chillicothe, Mo.; and R.B. “Brass” Breshears, 84, of Tahlequah each received a medal and plaque from Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, acknowledging their service to the country.

• Breshears was born on Dec. 11, 1929, in Muskogee and was raised on a dairy farm. He graduated from Warner High School in May 1947. The following year he enlisted in the Marine Corps. He graduated from boot camp in November 1947 in San Diego. He was then sent to Guam as a member of the Special Forces. His unit, 1st Marine Division, 1st Engineer Battalion, Company A, rotated back to the U.S. in 1948, and the following year he was sent to the front lines in South Korea. In May 1950 he married Mae Lea Smith. On his first tour in Washington, D.C., he participated in the inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and on his second tour he was the senior non-commissioned officer at President John F. Kennedy’s funeral. He retired with the rank of captain in 1969. His awards include a Joint Service Commendation Medal, Combat Action Ribbon and Navy Presidential Unit Citation.

• Cowart was born July 23, 1946, in Blackgum to Kenneth Clyde and Lillian Cowart. He graduated from Catoosa High School and was drafted into the Army in 1967. He was sent to Fort Polk, La., for basic training and then Fort Sill, for basic field artillery training. He was deployed to South Vietnam in 1968 for one year. In 1981, Cowart went to work for the state of Oklahoma, where he worked for 23 years, retiring in 1999. He lives in Vian.

• Walkingstick was born March 25, 1933, in the Baron community of Adair County. He joined the Navy after graduating from Westville High School in 1952. He completed basic training at Camp Elliot Naval Training Center in San Diego and Combat Airman School at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash. He was first assigned to search and rescue duty in Kodiak, Alaska. Walkingstick finished his military career doing reconnaissance missions during the Cold War. He retired from the Navy in 1956. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Arkansas.

• Holland was born April 23, 1960, in Coffeyville, Kan. His Air Force career began in 1979, and he worked the flight lines as an aircraft fuel specialist. He reached the rank of sergeant in 1986. Holland enlisted in the Army in 1986. After more than 22 years, Holland was honorably discharged in 2001. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas. He has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Colorado. He is the city administrator for the town of Chillicothe, Mo.