552nd ACW welcomes indigenous students to celebrate Native American Heritage Month

  • Published
  • By Ashley San Miguel

In recognition of November’s Native American Heritage Month, the 552nd Air Control Wing welcomed students with indigenous heritage to share in their mission on Nov. 3.

Youth from local nations toured an E-3 Sentry aircraft and learned about the 552nd’s mission. The keynote speaker for the event was Capt. Jonathan Witherspoon, a 552nd Operations Support Squadron air battle manager and member of the Navajo nation.

Witherspoon, who is the first in his family to serve in the armed forces, leaned on the importance of representation of Native Americans in the armed forces.

“The military is a great avenue to serve and learn more about how we can serve this great nation,” Witherspoon said. “I want to encourage Indigenous youth to chase after career opportunities that will help them be future leaders for their respective nations.”

The event also included a display of artwork submitted by students as part of an art contest challenging them to display their heritage and ideas of military service.

Abria Hamilton Youngbird from the Navajo nation was selected as the winner and had her artwork displayed on the E-3 Sentry that was unveiled during the event.

“I hope my story will help set an example to the Indigenous youth that it is possible to chase after your careers and be part of your home,” said Witherspoon.

The mission in the 552nd Air Control Wing is to train, develop, and employ combat-ready Airmen and weapons systems to deliver decisive Command of the Air supporting America's national security priorities.