Commander of McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, Col. Michael Hammond, spoke at the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma's annual Veterans Day ceremony conducted Nov. 11, in Tuskahoma, Oklahoma.
More than 1,000 guests attended the event on a picture-perfect autumn day on the grounds of the National Choctaw Museum, which served as the Choctaw Capitol from 1884 to 1907. Last year's event was cancelled due to COVID-19.
MCAAP maintains a special relationship with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, as the depot sits within the tribe's boundary. Since the Army took over the plant from the Navy in 1977, the plant’s insignia has contained the seal of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma — and also includes the Choctaw phrase, "Achukma hoke," which means, "I'm doing well."
"The United States has experienced a war in every generation since Independence, and Choctaw warriors have always fought alongside American Soldiers — fulfilling the prophecy of Chief Pushmataha, that the Choctaw ‘war cry’ would be heard in many foreign lands," said Hammond. Pushmataha, known as the "Indian General," led the Choctaw to fight on the side of the United States in the War of 1812.
"The Choctaw have served in the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and in wars around the globe ever since. Choctaw Soldiers have distinguished themselves in them all," said Hammond.
Hammond called for all veterans to commit to better engaging with their communities and fellow citizens — to tell their story, and become better connected to the community.
"While we still have work to do, we have so much to proud of and so much to celebrate," said Hammond. "While Memorial Day is a time of somber silence, Veterans Day is a time of triumph. Today let us be filled with joy and celebrate all that our veterans do for us."
Choctaw Veteran and World War I hero, Pfc. Joseph Oklahombi, was posthumously inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame during the event.
Oklahombi, who died in 1960, was the most-decorated WWI Soldier from Oklahoma. He served in Company D, First Battalion, 141st Regiment, Seventy-first Brigade of the Thirty-sixth Infantry Division, where he was one of the Choctaw code talkers.
Oklahombi single-handedly captured 171 Germans after moving 200 yards over open ground against artillery and machine gun fire, rushing a machine gun nest and capturing one of the guns. He not only turned the gun on the enemy for four days, keeping them under fire — he did so without food and water, killing many enemy soldiers until the rest of them surrendered.
Current Army Staff Sgt. Zachary Moore, also a Choctaw, was also recognized as the recipient of "The Heart of the Warrior Scholarship" from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Moore will attend Columbia University in New York.
MCAAP delivers Joint Force Readiness through ammunition production, maintenance, storage, shipment, and demilitarization operations. It plays an integral role within the Joint Munitions Command and the U.S. Army Materiel Command.