Dwight Birdwell, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, receives the Medal of Honor during a ceremony at the White House on July 5, 2022.

Birdwell was recognized for his heroism during the Vietnam War. President Joe Biden said the Cherokee soldier went above and beyond the call of duty to save other members of his U.S. Army unit during a particularly violent period of the military conflict.

“When he was ordered to load onto the medevac helicopter, he complied — this I find amazing — only to crawl right back off the other side and to keep on fighting,” Biden said at the White House, noting that Birdwell sustained serious injuries of his own.

Biden also pointed out that American Indians and Alaska Natives serve in the military at the highest per capita rates of any racial or ethnic group in the United States.

Following his military service, Birdwell returned home to Oklahoma and started his own law firm. He later served as a chief justice for the Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation.

At the end of the White House ceremony, Biden awarded Birdwell the Medal of Honor, the highest and most prestigious U.S. military decoration.

Three other soldiers also received a Medal of Honor during the ceremony.


10625606070?profile=RESIZE_180x180President Biden pays tribute to Cherokee Nation veteran Dwight Birdwell on Soundcloud


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The Medal of Honor is the highest U.S. military decoration awarded to individuals who, while serving in the U.S. armed services, have distinguished themselves by conspicuous gallantry and courage at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty.

Each recommendation for this decoration must incontestably prove that the act of bravery or self-sacrifice involved obvious risk of life and, if the risk hadn't been taken, there would be no just grounds for censure. The award is made in the name of congress and is presented by the President of the United States. Originally authorized by congress in 1861, it's sometimes called the "Congressional Medal of Honor."

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