Cherokees give Oklahoma troops ride home for the holiday

Tuesday, December 23rd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Hundreds of Oklahoma's National Guard members are home for the holidays thanks to an Oklahoma tribe.

Members of the 120th Engineer Battalion arrived home from Fort Sill Tuesday afternoon after a temporary delay in plans. News on 6 reporter Patrina Adger says it will be a Merry Christmas for 600 Army National Guard members and their families.

The News on 6 first told you last week, that Wal-Mart had initially planned to provide buses for the guard members to get home, but the store had prior commitments which prevented that from happening. That's when Cherokee Nation Enterprises stepped in.

They provided buses to drop off soldiers at eight different locations throughout northeast Oklahoma including Tahlequah, Wagoner, Eufaula and here in Tulsa.

Loved ones waited in the parking lot of US Cellular at 4700 South Garnett for the soldiers to arrive. The guard's 120th Engineer Battalion is training in Fort Sill, preparing for a deployment overseas.

Family members knew the soldiers would be home for Christmas, the problem was "how" they would get here. That's when Cherokee Nation Enterprises stepped in.

Oklahoma National Guard SPC James White: "One of our employees heard on the news that the soldiers were having a hard time getting home, so he called me and I said sure we'd look at the opportunity to help and we just pulled the trigger and did it."

With so many hugs and kisses going around, these families don't want to think "about" anything but spending a peaceful Christmas day with the ones they love.

Soldier's wife Nancy Smith: "It's great! You can see why! I get to be here for her first Christmas."