Cherokee soldier retires after 32-plus years of military service

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
11/30/2015 08:00 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Lt. Col. Brian W. Wright
Main Cherokee Phoenix
The Wright family has a long history of military service. Ged Wright, left, is a retired brigadier general who served with the Oklahoma National Guard. Brent Wright is a colonel and is serving as the deputy chief of staff for the Oklahoma Air National Guard and is also commander of the 138th Support Group in Tulsa. Lt. Col. Brian Wright, right, served more than 32 years in the Army and retired as a Green Beret. And Janna Wright formerly served as a captain in the Oklahoma Air National Guard Aero Med Squadron. COURTESY
STUTTGART, Germany – Cherokee Nation citizen and Lt. Col. Brian W. Wright, a U.S. Army Special Forces officer, will retire after 32 years and 9 months of service on Dec. 1.

Lt. Col. Wright is a 1991 graduate of Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, as well as his great-grandmother who attended the Cherokee Female Seminary prior to what is known as NSU today.

Wright served in the U.S. Army Special Forces as a Green Beret. The Special Forces symbol is the crossed arrows, which was derived from Native American Indian Scouts who served the U.S. Army in the 19th century and passed on this legacy to the modern Special Forces. Their motto “De Opresso Liber” means, “to free the oppressed” in Latin.

Wright, 51, said he believes serving his country came natural because his father, Ged Wright, is a retired brigade general who served with the Oklahoma Air National Guard.

“I think service was kind of a natural thing for me. It was kind of natural for myself, my brother, my sister. All of us ended up joining the National Guard. I took a little different route,” Brian said. “The infantry was really a way for me to go because it’s very outdoorsy. You’re outdoors and you’re having fun, and I love the outdoors. It was a natural fit.”

Brian’s military career began as an enlisted airman radio communication repair specialist in the Oklahoma Air National Guard in 1983. After two years, he transferred to the Army National Guard. And after three years reached the rank of sergeant. In 1986, he was selected and attended the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School in Fort Benning, Georgia, becoming an infantry officer with the 1-279th Infantry OANG.

He spent the next six years in the OANG as an infantry officer commanding several platoons and a rifle company. He then transferred to the Alabama National Guard, where he served the next two years as a Special Forces officer. He was selected to serve on active duty in 1994 and spent the next 21 years serving in various leadership positions around the world as an active duty U.S. Army Special Forces officer, serving in South America, Central America, Mexico, Europe, Southwest Asia and Africa.

His active duty assignments include detachment commander, A Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina; detachment commander, C Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Panama City; instructor Mexican Military Academy, Mexico City; detachment commander, B Company, The Training Battalion, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (Airborne), Fort Benning; G3 Staff, Headquarters, 7th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado; Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Arabian Peninsula Iraq liaison officer to the Multi-National Division Baghdad; company commander, A Company, 3rd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Carson; strategic planner Special Operations Command Europe (Airborne), Stuttgart; strategic planner Special Operations Command South (Airborne), Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida; and strategic planner U.S. Africa Command, Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart.

Lt. Col. Wright is the only known member of the Special Forces Regiment and CN citizen who has commanded five Special Forces Operational Detachment “Alphas” as a regular commissioned officer. He has served at the highest levels in the Department of Defense and has more than eight years of service in Joint Staff Organizations.

He said he would “miss the troops” the most and miss serving with them after leaving the Army.

“The NCOs (non-commissioned officers), the junior officers, they are really the heart of our country. They are the young people that serve, that volunteer. The old guys like me, we like to stick around, but it’s the young blood that continues to come in and volunteer and do what they do,” he said.

Brian was born outside Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma. Along with his father, his brother Brent is a colonel and is serving as the deputy chief of staff for the Oklahoma Air National Guard and is also commander of the 138th Support Group in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and his sister Janna formerly served as a captain in the Oklahoma Air National Guard Aero Med Squadron.

“In my family everybody served. My grandfather served in World War II and got four or five battle stars in the Pacific,” Wright said.

Friends and family will gather on the Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart on Nov. 30 to celebrate his military career and transition into civilian life. His wife of 20 years, Monica, from Lima, Peru, was expected to attend along with his son, Brian, 19, and his daughter Michelle, 22.
About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He e ...
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He e ...

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