By Chuck Hoskin Jr.
Guest review. Dwight Birdwell is an American hero and patriot of the Cherokee Nation. I deeply respect the man for his service to our tribal nation and country. He is now the newest recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the United States’ most prestigious award for military veterans who have shown gallantry in battle at the risk of their lives beyond the call. of duty.
A native of Adair County, Mr. Birdwell is one of the few Cherokees throughout history to receive the Medal of Honor. He received the Purple Heart medal and two Silver Star medals for his extraordinary heroism in several battles. I was proud to accompany Mr. Birdwell to the White House when he and three other U.S. Army soldiers received this long-awaited honor from the President for their actions during the Vietnam War.
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Mr. Birdwell’s heroic deeds recognized by the US military:
“He was assigned to Troop C, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry, 25th Infantry Division. He was awarded the first Silver Star for heroism on January 31, 1968, when his unit ran to defend Tan Son Air Base Nhut, which was under attack during the Tet Offensive Cavalry Troop C was the first US ground unit from outside the air base to respond to the attack.When Birdwell’s tank commander was seriously wounded, Birdwell took command and placed heavy fire on the enemy until his ammunition ran out, he then retrieved an M-60 machine gun and continued to fire on the enemy until the gun being damaged by enemy fire, which also wounded Birdwell, disregarding his own safety, he drove through a hail of enemy fire to obtain more ammunition for his men from other damaged vehicles.
On the night of July 4, 1968, he again risked his life to rescue other Americans, some of them wounded, who were stranded in a combat zone in an enemy-occupied village. Seeing a damaged army personnel carrier, he exposed himself to heavy enemy fire while loading all the wounded and evacuating them to safety. He then returned to the village to rescue more Americans, earning him his second Silver Star for bravery.
It sounds like a Hollywood script, not the deeds of a humble Bell man who expected no praise. Without a doubt, he is a true American hero, one who unhesitatingly put his own life on the line – more than once – to protect his fellow Americans.
Mr. Birdwell went on to graduate from Northeastern State University and later the OU College of Law. He served as a member and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation from 1987 to 1999. He helped lay the foundation for our tribe’s modern court system. He also practiced law in the Oklahoma City area for over 40 years, and he remains a highly respected community leader.
That’s why last year I wrote a letter of support to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Oklahoma state and federal leaders advocating for Mr. Birdwell to receive the Medal of Honor. We pleaded with the nation’s top military leadership for this honor, as it was simply appropriate and belated recognition of his valiant actions during the Vietnam War. We joined a chorus of people from across the country to support this honor.
Mr. Birdwell never left a man behind during his legendary war career. He fought the enemy, saved his comrades in arms and embodied the Cherokee philosophy of honorable military service. We are extremely proud of Dwight Birdwell, as a fellow Cherokee. It represents thousands of Cherokees over generations who have proudly served our country to protect our freedoms.
Chuck Hoskin, Jr. is the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.
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