By Walter T. Ham IV, 20th CBRNE Command Public AffairsNovember 17, 2014
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Nov. 17, 2014) -- The 20th CBRNE Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives), hosted a ceremony to honor the contributions of Native Americans here, Thursday.
Soldiers and U.S. Army civilians attended the ceremony to mark Native American Indian Heritage Month.
The event featured food tasting, exhibits and performances.
Lt. Col. Nathele J. Anderson, the commander of the 4th Battalion, 321st Regiment at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, was the guest speaker.
A U.S. Army Reserve officer who has served in South Korea, Afghanistan and Qatar, Anderson described growing up in the Navajo Nation in the four corners area of the southwestern U.S., where Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado come together.
Anderson described the influence her culture had on her decision to join the U.S. Army, and noted that Native Americans have the highest record of military service per capita in the United States.
"The warrior spirit is alive and well, and indeed, it is a part of our military history and traditions," said Anderson. "The warrior spirit of strength, honor and courage is a part of my heritage.
Brig. Gen. JB Burton, commanding general of the 20th CBRNE Command, said that Native American troops have served with distinction.
Burton leads more than 5,000 Soldiers and civilians in the U.S. Department of Defense's only multifunctional formation that combats chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats around the world.
"We gather to honor the incredible contribution that Native Americans have made in the defense of our nation," said Burton, a native of Tullahoma, Tennessee.
During his address, Burton highlighted the Choctaw and Navajo code talkers, as well as the 28 Native Americans, who have the earned the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest decoration of military valor.
"In many Native American languages, the translation for Soldier, warrior, protector and helper are all the same word," said Burton.
"From serving as scouts and guides in the young Colonial Army, to the cold mountains of Afghanistan, to the burning deserts of Iraq, Native Americans have historically answered our nation's call," said Burton.