(photo courtesy of John Sloan)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 15, 2018
Veteran Reflects on Attendance to Commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the End of World War I
OKMULGEE, Okla. — For one Muscogee (Creek) veteran, John Sloan, it was the opportunity of a lifetime when he made the trip to Suresnes, France to attend the Commemoration Ceremony of the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I.
Mr. Sloan is a Vietnam veteran who was specifically chosen by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation to attend the commemoration at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial Nov. 11, 2018.
The Suresnes American Cemetery is located just outside of Paris, France and is where the remains of 1,541 Americans, who died in WWI, are buried today.
Since his return, and having time to reflect, Sloan said it was a spiritual and humbling experience to be able to honor the men and be in the presence of their graves.
“You hear people referring to areas of ground being sacred or something but I remember distinctively when I was walking around these graves, I could feel the ground trembling,” Sloan said. “You start to feel a little bit of spirituality. You could actually feel that these soldiers were here and it was just an awesome feeling when you look at the headstones out there. Then to see these specifically say ‘Oklahoma Creek Indian’, it’s just really heartbreaking and it just was heartbreaking really standing there being able to honor them.”
The Nation’s Veterans Affairs Service Office Director Ken Davis said the decision was made that one veteran would be sent to France to represent the Nation overall and honor the four citizens who are buried there.
“So, our tribe had made a decision that we wanted to commemorate this and honor our men who fought and were killed over there in action,” Davis said. “We looked at them and we decided to send one man, one that will represent us overall who we are and what we’ve done. So, we looked at about 30 different veterans and we chose John Sloan for the following reasons: one, he was a draftee in the Vietnam War and John went; he didn’t resist. He went willingly, raised his hand and took the oath of office. He was an infantryman in Vietnam, was awarded four Purple Hearts for four different occasions of being wounded in Vietnam. We decided to send John Sloan over there to represent the entire Muscogee (Creek) Nation and he did.”
Second Chief Louis Hicks said Sloan did a great job representing the Nation while on the trip.
“I think it’s great that we could send somebody over there other than Chief Floyd or myself,” Second Chief Hicks said. “He did a great job with it and I want to thank him; we appreciate it.”
The four citizens who were Killed in Action during WWI were William S. Harjo, Private First Class, U.S. Army; Sam Beaver, Private, U.S. Army; Washington L. Perryman, Private, U.S. Army; and Oscar Tiger who Died of Disease while in action. Their remains are buried at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France.
The Nation has seven citizens total who were KIAs killed in France during WWI. The others’ remains were brought back to the U.S.
During Sloan’s visit to France, he was able to take Oklahoma soil to leave on each of the graves, as a way to honor our men who never returned home.
“Because you know, I knew these men would never come home,” Davis said. “So, why not take home to them? Do I think it makes them rest easier in my own beliefs? Yeah, I do. John, he poured the soil on top of the cross and poured it over the actual grass. This is something that needed to be done.”
Out of the seven known KIAs, six are full-blood Mvskoke and the seventh is half.
Davis said although there are only seven known citizens who were KIAs from WWI, it is likely there are more out there. Unfortunately, it’s an extensive process to verify records and get in touch with the soldiers’ families to find out more information.
As far as military records and specifically for the U.S. Army, an unfortunate fire in Saint Louis, Mo., in 1973 destroyed 90 percent of the records of those with last names A through J, which has made VASO’s search even more difficult.
For VASO, referencing the final list of the Dawes Rolls has been a significant resource in identifying our Nation’s WWI and WWII veterans. Viewing local court house records within the tribal jurisdiction has also been helpful in the search.
For more information on the services the Nation provides veterans, visit VASO’s website at: www.mcn-nsn.gov/services/veterans-affairs.