OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – She is a Navajo class towing, salvage and rescue ship yet to be built, but not yet to be named.
On a windy January morning at the not yet completed First Americans Museum, U.S. Navy and Muscogee Creek tribal leaders gathered to announce the naming of the USNS Muscogee Creek Nation.
“As we align warriors of Indian country to warriors of the sea,” said Capt. Calvin Foster in his prepared remarks.
Foster remembers two years ago when this new class of ship was announced.
He recalls being stationed at the Pentagon and asking his superiors what it would take to suggest naming one.
“Have someone write a letter,” he recalls being told. “‘You just have someone write a letter?’ I said, ‘Okay.'”
Foster is from Bristow, Oklahoma and a Muscogee Creek Citizen.
Once tribal officials like Chief David Hill got a a look at what this new ship could do – tow aircraft carriers and perform deep sea salvage operations – they got on board quickly.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Chief Hill after the ceremony. “It’s an honor just to be recognized.”
It also helped that another Oklahoman was well placed to keep the proposal’s heading straight.
Navy Undersecretary Greg Slavonic got it through just before his five-year term ended.
He told the crowd, “This is my last official act as Undersecretary of the Navy.”
The Muscogee Creek Nation has a proud tradition of citizen soldiers.
Citizen Earnest Childers won a Congressional Medal of Honor in 1943 while he was in the Army.
The percentage of Native Americans who serve remains much higher than the national average.
“One in a hundred U.S. citizens will serve in our military,” said First Americans Museum Director James Pepper Henry. “One in nine Native Americans will serve in our military.”
So here’s to the USNS Muscogee Creek Nation, a worthy name for both work horse and war horse of the high seas.
Navy officials tell us there are to be eight Navajo Class ships built over the next few years, all named for Native American tribes.
The USNS Muscogee Creek Nation is due to be finished sometime in 2023.
For more information about the Navajo Class ship in the U.S. Navy, go to this page on the Navy’s website.
For more information on the Muscogee Creek Nation, go to the Muscogee Creek Nation website.