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Cherokee Nation bestows Medal of Patriotism to 3 veterans

By TIMES RECORD, FORT SMITH, ARK. Published: April 15, 2017

FORT SMITH, Ark. (Tribune News Service) — The Cherokee Nation honored three veterans with the Medal of Patriotism at the April Tribal Council meeting this week.

John Levi Swimmer, 83, of Vian; Eddie Gene Storozyszyn, 71, of Wagoner, Okla.; and Steven Donald Summers, 61, of Claremore, Okla., were recognized by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, acknowledging their service and sacrifice to their country.

After his honorable discharge as a staff sergeant in 1955, Swimmer initially worked for ARK/LA Natural Gas Co. in Arkansas and later returned to Oklahoma to work for Kerr McGee. As a Vian School Board member from 1970-80, he played a large role in the construction of several of Vian's school buildings.

Swimmer still lives in Vian, where he graduated high school in 1953 before being drafted into the Army. Swimmer was chosen to participate in the General Mark Clark Leadership School and later served his first deployment at Camp Casey in Korea.

"I thank the people here. I'm proud to serve my country. I lived my life with the things that guided me: my family, my country and my duty," Swimmer said at the award ceremony.

Storozyszyn enlisted in the Army in September 1965 and began his military career stationed 40 miles south of Cameroon Bay in the Sixth Battalion, 71st Artillery Division. Later, he served in Vietnam for one year and returned to Fort Sill in Oklahoma. Storozyszyn received an honorable discharge as a sergeant in 1967 and currently lives in Wagoner.

Summers enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in March 1975 and studied weather equipment repair at Chanute Air Force Base before he was reassigned to Randolph Air Force Base in Texas. He received an honorable discharge in 1978 and relocated to White Bear, Minn., where he learned to build prosthetic limbs, eventually creating the prosthetic that he wears today. He lost his left leg in a motorcycle accident in the late 1970s. In 2006, Summers returned to work on his father's horse ranch in Claremore, where he currently lives.

Each month, the Cherokee Nation recognizes Cherokee service men and women for their sacrifices and as a way to demonstrate the high regard in which all veterans are held by the tribe. Native Americans, including Cherokees, are thought to have more citizens serving per capita than any other ethnic group, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. To nominate a veteran who is a Cherokee Nation citizen, call (918) 772-4166.

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©2017 Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.)
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