Chickasaw Nation, Mater honored by squadron

From the left, Chief Master Sgt. Richard Young and Maj. Joshua Odquist of the 137th Special Operations Security Force Squadron present a framed uniform emblem to Chickasaw artist Dustin Mater, Gov. Bill Anoatubby, Chickasaw Nation Secretary of Culture & Humanities Lisa John and Chickasaw Nation Arts and Humanities Executive Officer Laura Stewart. Mater, an internationally renowned artist, worked with the Oklahoma City-based squadron for 16 months to develop the emblem.

Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby joined renowned international Chickasaw artist Dustin Mater as officials of the 137th Special Operations Security Force Squadron unveiled a patch designed by Mater for the Oklahoma-based unit.

The patch features an ancient Chickasaw mace – an ornamental staff carried as a symbol of authority – a southeastern tribal tomahawk and a woodpecker motif connecting the two. “Pugnentes Humi Ruberis” adorns the top. The Latin-to-English translation is “Warriors of the Red Soil” to illustrate the squadron’s Oklahoma roots.

“What we were shooting for was ‘red earth warriors or red dirt warriors,’” said Richard Young, chief master sergeant and the squadron’s security forces manager.

“We wanted an emblem that had the Native American-Oklahoma ties in it. The Chickasaws showed immediate interest in designing the patch,” he said, adding that officials met with Mater more than 16 months ago to launch the project.

The patch went through several modifications before approval as an official Air Force heraldry patch in August by the Air National Guard History Office, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

“We wear it with pride,” Maj. Joshua Odquist told Anoatubby following a recent ceremony at the Chickasaw Nation Veterans Lodge. Odquist is the squadron’s commander and anti-terrorism officer.

He formally presented Anoatubby with a squadron badge and “challenge coin” featuring Mater’s art.

Mater was presented with a framed patch in Chickasaw Nation colors of red, blue and yellow. The framed emblem is the first one produced in full color. Uniform patches are in subdued, military-issue tones. The new emblem may be used in full color on letterheads, cards, stationery, challenge coins and other special occasions, Chief Master Sgt. Young explained.

“I’m proud to have had the opportunity to design this emblem for the Air Force,” Mater said.

“He is quite a talent. We are blessed to have him,” Anoatubby said of Mater. “We are thankful of him and thankful to you for providing service to our country.”

Mater wore a special bandolier for the ceremony in honor of his family’s turtle clan. Fashioned in Chickasaw tribal colors, the bandolier features elaborate beading of imagery important to Chickasaws centuries ago, including a turtle (loksi, in Chickasaw) and designs that mimic pucker-toe moccasins.

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