Oklahoma National Guard Honors 7 From Braggs, Webbers Falls With Thunderbird Award

Saturday, December 7th 2019, 9:17 pm
By: Amelia Mugavero

The Oklahoma Standard is often putting others needs in front of your own.

Seven Muskogee County civilians and first responders were given the special Thunderbird medal Saturday morning in a special ceremony by the Oklahoma National Guard at the Braggs Fire Department.

Recipients included Muskogee County Sheriff Rob Frazier, who said he doesn't take the honor lightly.

“This is proof that Muskogee County teams together and bonds together and we would do it again and we will be okay,” Frazier told News On 6.

The Thunderbird Award is the second highest civilian award given by the Guard. Adjutant General Michael Thompson traveled across the state to personally award the medals, and said they are recognizing the community for the efforts that they made during the flooding of 2019.

“This community is just an example of resilience, and the guard is all about community, so our ability to be part of this community and help them in their time of need, we are very proud of that,” said Thompson. 

Col. Brad Carter said he saw firsthand just how much each recipient did during the flooding. Carter said the award is not application based. He said the conversations to give the award to Muskogee County citizens started during the May flooding.

"I think disasters bring out the good in people, that’s what I saw, this community came together, they didn't just come to show up, they came to serve and came to serve with passion, but that is something that really impressed me,” said Carter. 

According to Carter, the award is only given out a few times per year, so the fact that it was given to seven people in the same city is a big honor.

Gary Isbell is a division chief with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and was one of the recipients. He said he understands this medal's significance and said it is something that he will treasure the rest of life.

“It's one of the highlights of my life, being in the highway patrol, we realize what major awards mean and for Gen. Thompson and his staff to give these awards out, is pretty amazing,” said Isbell. 

The full list of recipients and a summer of their actions are as follows:

1) CPT Gary Isbell - Isbell was critical to ensuring the safety and welfare of the Braggs citizens, his actions directly contributed to the opening of the East route through Cherokee County allowing citizens of the Braggs community to receive supplies.

2) Mr. Shane Frix - Frix also contributed to the East route reopening and was in constant contact with emergency management.

3) Mr. Timmy Smith - As the Braggs Fire Chief, Mr. Smith was assigned as the incident commander of the flood response and was responsible for meeting and responding to the daily needs of Braggs citizens. Smith also helped distribute supplies.

4) Mr. Dalton Bruce - As a fireman, Mr. Bruce ensured that the Fire Department was ready to attend to civilians.

5) Sheriff Rob Frazier - Frazier ensured that law and order was established and maintained in Braggs.

6) Kerrie Englebretson - Englebretson ensured citizens had medications by working with doctors and pharmacies. She also took it upon herself to take a boat out and pick up and deliver prescriptions.

7) Amanda Brewer - Brewer was effective in communication and resolved multiple challenges while getting goods from Fort Gibson and working with citizens in Braggs.