Cherokee Nation Vets Touring Memorials In Washington, D.C.

Monday, September 25th 2017, 9:11 am
By: Tess Maune

With America flags proudly displayed, and a salute from patriot guard riders, veterans passed through airport security Monday morning for the Cherokee Warrior Flight.

The Cherokee Nation foots the bill for the once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Nation's capital for eight veterans. 

"They laugh and they eat and they share stories and they're enjoying life," said Deputy Chief Joe Crittenden, who is a U.S. Navy Veteran.

But, they'll also honor those who didn't make it home. 

"It gets a hold of them and you see it in their faces," Crittenden said. "Time heals things, but part of the healing process is sharing it with other veterans and so we get to do a lot of that." 

9/25/2017 Related Story: Cherokee Veterans Travel To Nations Capitol 

They'll stop by Arlington National Cemetery as well. There, World War II Vet Jack Shamblin will pay respects to his grandson, Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler - one of Oklahoma's most decorated fallen heroes. 

"Under combat back conditions he was cool. I mean somebody shooting at you, you're gonna get rattled, but he didn't," Shamblin said. 

Wheeler died when his special forces teams raided ISIS compound two years ago.

Twenty ISIS militants were killed that day, too. His bravery is credit for saving the lives of nearly 70 prisoners. 

"One of the special forces guys told me he was the best soldier he ever saw," Shamblin said. 

And he was following in his Jack's footsteps.

A proud grandfather, grateful for the chance to see where his hero was laid to rest.

"He loved us and we love him," Shamblin said. 

World War II, Vietnam and Korean War Veterans between 70 and 92 years are represented on the trip.

This is the fourth Cherokee Warrior Flight and these veterans will spend three days in D.C., so they'll be back here in Tulsa on Wednesday.