Monday, May 26, 2008

Tulsa clinic renamed in honor of the late Creek veteran Ernest Childers

The Veteran Administration's outpatient clinic in Tulsa will be renamed in honor of the late Creek veteran Ernest Childers in a rededication ceremony Tuesday.

Childers holds the honor of being the first American Indian to receive the Medal of Honor for his service in World War II.

The ceremony starts at 1 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel, 10918 E. 41st St.

A statue of Childers will be unveiled around 3:15 p.m. at the clinic, located at 9322 E. 41st St., following the ceremony and reception. The statue was donated by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

Childers was born in Broken Arrow on Feb. 1, 1918. He was a graduate of the Chilocco Indian School near Ponca City, where he boxed and studied mechanics.

He joined the Oklahoma National Guard in 1937 and completed basic training at Fort Sill. His unit was part of the 45th Infantry Division and was deployed to Africa during World War II.

Childers received the military's highest award, the Medal of Honor, following his actions on Sept. 22, 1943, at Oliveto, Italy. Forced to crawl because of his fractured foot, he took out enemy machine gun nests, killing two snipers and capturing an enemy mortar observer. Childers' actions that day were credited with helping U.S. troops win the Battle of Oliveto.

He was also the recipient of a Purple Heart and the Oklahoma Distinguished Service Cross. The Tulsa Chapter of the Council of American Indians named him "Oklahoma's Most Outstanding Indian" in 1966, and in 1985, the Ernest Childers Middle School was dedicated in Broken Arrow.

He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1965 and briefly worked with the Job Corps. He spoke to students about the emotional costs of war when he returned to Oklahoma. He died on March 17, 2005, at the age of 87.

Guest speakers at the ceremony will include U.S. Rep. John Sullivan and Muscogee (Creek) Nation Second Chief Alfred L. Berryhill. Mayor Kathy Taylor will proclaim Tuesday as Ernest Childers VA Outpatient Clinic Day.

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