Traveling Exhibit at DWU Honors Native Veterans

MITCHELL, S.D.-   Even with all of the celebrations and acknowledgment of veterans on Veteran’s Day, there’s one group of people who are often forgotten about. So a traveling exhibition has been set up on the Dakota Wesleyan University campus in Mitchell to keep people informed about their service.

More Native Americans per capita have served in the U.S.military than any other ethnic group. Dakota Wesleyan History Professor Dr. Sean Flynn is proud to say his father, John P. ‘Pat’ Flynn, Jr. also known as Long Elk was one of them. His father joined the naval aviation with the Marines in 1942 and served until 1966. 

“Flew 82 combat missions, a combined 82 combat missions in World War II and Korea, so he saw a lot of action,” said Flynn. 

He was one of the few pilots of American Indian descent to fly combat missions in World War II and Korea. He also served in Vietnam. 

Long Elk was a part of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and is a descendant of Spotted Tail. 

“He saw himself as an extension, next generation of a Lakota warrior who was fighting on a modern battlefield using modern technology,” said Flynn. 

“His call sign was ‘Chief’ in recognition of his Native American heritage and he took seriously his responsibility to defend his home land.”

So serious that even after being a prisoner of war in Korea, he stayed strong.

“This is the day my dad crossed at Freedom Village, repatriated after 16 months as a prisoner of war,” said Flynn as he shows a photo of his dad. 

“My father’s achievements in the military I think highlighted the capability, the talent, the skills, the intelligence that Native Americans had and that they’re as capable of achieving military valor and military achievements as anybody.”

To honor Flynn’s father and other native’s who have served, a traveling exhibit has stopped at Dakota Wesleyan University.  The exhibit is called Patriot Nation’s: Native American’s in Our Nation’s Armed Forces. It comes from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. There are 16 panels featuring over 250 years of native people’s contributions to the U.S. military. American Indians have served in every major U.S. military encounter from the Revolutionary War to current conflicts in the Middle East. 

“Something like this, with these panels and an exhibit like this will amplify their contributions,” said Flynn. 

He says it’s something his dad and other natives deserve. 

The exhibit will be on display in the Mcgovern Library at Dakota Wesleyan University through the rest of November.

Flynn has also written a book about his father. You can purchase it here: https://www.amazon.com/Chief-Marine-Corps-Warrior/dp/0897452674

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