A decommissioned UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter has a new home at the Sac and Fox Nation Veterans Memorial in Stroud, Oklahoma.
Brig. Gen. Doug Lowrey, commander of the Mission and Installation Contracting Command, dedicated the aircraft on July 9 during a ceremony on the Sac and Fox Nation Reservation. Lowrey, an Oklahoma native and descendant of the Cherokee tribe, is the only Native American general officer serving on active duty in the Army.
“This Black Hawk is where it belongs – alongside the Sac and Fox Nation,” Lowrey said. “Like its namesake, this Black Hawk achieved lofty status through exploits leading warriors into battle. This helicopter served with distinction and flew Soldiers into and out of harm’s way. This Black Hawk is a credit to the name, and it belongs right here.”
The UH-60 helicopter, named “Black Hawk” after a war chief and leader of the Sauk (present day Sac) tribe in the Midwest, is the Army’s primary frontline, medium-lift, utility helicopter supporting assault, air cavalry and aeromedical evacuation units.
During the decommissioning process, the Sac and Fox Nation asked that the helicopter have “Wêtâthêwaki” painted on the door – the Sauk word for warrior.
“This Black Hawk has brought our Soldiers home from battle and now is in its final resting place,” Rickey Cline Sr., a veteran and member of the Sac and Fox Nation, said during the ceremony. “I’m proud to say I’m Sac and Fox, and we have a bright future ahead of us. I’m so proud to say this Black Hawk has landed and is home.”
The Program Executive Office for Aviation’s Utility Helicopters Project Office, along with the Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, assisted coordination and logistics for the aircraft, which was donated by the Army for purposes of the permanent display. The Chicago Blackhawks National Hockey League team funded the demilitarization, transportation and construction of the aircraft’s pedestal. Restoration work was performed by SESI in Huntsville.
Kathy Willerton, readiness and fleet manager for Black Hawk helicopters in the Utility Helicopters Project Office, along with Eddie Grimsley, UHPO’s readiness and fleet management aircraft divesture chief, coordinated and supported the entire process for PEO Aviation.
“It’s wonderful the Army donated a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to the Sac and Fox Nation, recognizing the linage to the modern day Black Hawk tribe,” said Willerton, who represented PEO Aviation at the dedication. “It really felt amazing to meet and see the tremendous pride in the many participants as the Black Hawk was dedicated at their Veterans Memorial.”
This is the first Army helicopter transferred to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in U.S. history. Native Americans have the highest record of military service per capita when compared to other ethnic groups, with more than 9,000 Native American or Alaska Natives serving our nation today.