Press Release

Release Date: November 14, 2023
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chickasaw warriors laid wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial during a recent trip to Washington, D.C., in celebration of Veterans Day.

The veterans, whose military service years ranged from the 1950s through the early 1990s, were part of the 16 Chickasaw elder veterans who attended a five-day trip to Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Chickasaw Nation.

Each year, the tribe sends its warriors to the Nation’s Capital to enjoy the sights, take part in Veterans Day memorial ceremonies and allow them an opportunity to fellowship with other Chickasaws who served. The 2023 warriors represented four branches of the U.S. armed services including the Marine Corps, Air Force, Army and Navy.

Four Chickasaw Vietnam-era veterans presented a Chickasaw Elder Veterans wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery Monday, Nov. 13. They included Emory, Texas, resident Randall Davis, an Army veteran; Houston resident Curtis Frazier, a Marine Corps veteran; Bullhead City, Arizona, resident Jimmy Rucker, an Army veteran; and Tulsa resident George Tabor, an army veteran.

Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said the trip is an expression of appreciation to Chickasaws who have served our country. 

“We owe a special debt of gratitude to the men and women who serve in the armed forces to defend our freedoms and way of life,” said Governor Anoatubby. 

“Chickasaws have bravely served in every major war and conflict since World War I, and these honored Chickasaw veterans continue to carry on the Chickasaw warrior tradition. Veterans Day provides a special opportunity for us to remember, honor and thank all the brave men and women who served and are now serving.”

This year’s trip took the warriors to memorials and monuments throughout the National Mall in Washington, D.C., including special ceremonies at the World War II Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Veterans Day. 

At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Albuquerque resident David Atkins, a Marine Corps veteran, and Oklahoma City resident Dr. Don Carter, an Army veteran, presented a wreath during a ceremony attended by hundreds of fellow Vietnam veterans. The gathering also provided opportunities for the elders to exchange stories of their military service and find the names of friends and fellow soldiers on the memorial wall. 

 Dr. Carter acknowledged the names of several acquaintances honored on the wall and said visiting the iconic black granite memorial is not easy.

“It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I choke up just thinking about it,” said Dr. Carter, recalling his first visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

A lifelong Oklahoman, Dr. Carter completed medical school at the University of Oklahoma and entered private practice as a general surgeon before being drafted at age 34. In military service, he spent a year in Vietnam operating on wounded soldiers. Now 89, he was the oldest Chickasaw elder making this year’s trip and still vividly describes the ups and downs of his overseas service.

“Mortality in our hospital was good. Our mortality rate was about 3.5%. If (wounded soldiers) got there alive, we usually kept them alive. But we lost a few,” Dr. Carter said solemnly.

In addition to the holiday memorial services, the veterans also toured the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Archives, the Lincoln Memorial, Union Station, the U.S. Capitol and other historic sites.

At the National Museum of the American Indian, the veterans explored a variety of exhibits describing the experiences and triumphs of First Americans throughout U.S. history. For many, a highlight was viewing the museum’s Chickasaw artifacts, including a flute and bald eagle feather that traveled with Chickasaw astronaut John Herrington aboard space shuttle Endeavour during his 2002 flight to the International Space Station. 

At the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center, several veterans gravitated to aircraft that were meaningful to their own military careers. 

Kingston, Oklahoma, resident Carl Pershica, a U.S. Army veteran, pointed out a Bell UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” helicopter in the museum and described how he and fellow soldiers huddled in the aircraft’s tight quarters as they were airlifted into combat areas. 

“There were no doors. We would hang tightly on to each other to remain in the helicopter,” said Mr. Pershica. “Then we’d jump 8-10 feet to the ground while carrying 90 pounds of equipment.” Mr. Pershica took more than 50 flights into the Vietnam jungle in this manner during his deployment. 

“For a typical mission, it would be three days or more before we saw our base again,” said Mr. Pershica. “On my longest mission, we spent 33 days in combat before returning to base.”

Veterans Services

The Chickasaw Nation provides veterans with increased benefits and services, including the Chickasaw Warrior Society. The warrior society was formed by Governor Anoatubby in 2015 as an organization to encourage community, establish and support camaraderie, and personify the Chickasaw warrior spirit.

The Chickasaw Nation Veterans Lodge, located on the Ada South Campus near the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center in Ada, Oklahoma, was also established to assist veterans in a centralized location. It serves by helping them conveniently access all resources available through the Chickasaw Nation and other sources. It also functions as a place for members of the Chickasaw Warrior Society, other veterans, and those in active service to come together for fellowship and networking.

To further honor all Chickasaw veterans, the Chickasaw Nation also created the Chickasaw Veterans Wall. The virtual veterans wall publicly pays tribute to all Chickasaws who have served in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.

For more information about these and other veterans services, visit