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Security Forces Airmen honors ancestors through service

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jeremy J. McClure
  • 185th ARW Public Affairs

Staff Sgt. Trisha Ross, an Airmen with the Iowa National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City, Iowa received the Military Meritorious Service Award from the Society for American Indian Government Employees (SAIGE) on June 8, 2017 during a ceremony held in Scottsdale, AZ.

According to Danny Garceau, Vice Chair for SAIGE and a retired Sgt. Maj. with the Michigan Army Guard, the award is to recognize those that go above and beyond in their duties while promoting Native American and Alaska Native culture.  SAIGE is a non-profit organization representing American Indian and Alaska Natives in federal, tribal, state, and local government. Their moto is honoring our ancestors through government service.

Ross is a member of the Ho-Chunk/Winnebago tribe of Nebraska and joined the Iowa National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing in 2012 and serves in the Security Forces Squadron at the Sioux City, Iowa based unit. When she was not drilling with the unit, she was completing an Associate of Science in Radiologic Technology from St. Luke’s College in Sioux City, Iowa.   

“She always steps up to volunteer and has missed out on things personally because she has come to the base or gone on trips to support the mission,” said Lt. Col. Brandon East, Security Forces Squadron Commander. “She has one of the best attitudes in the squadron and is someone junior Airmen look up to.”

In the nomination for award, East noted that Ross was awarded the Air Force Achievement medal for her outstanding contributions during the unit’s Nuclear Operational Readiness Inspection. She also volunteers with the Women’s Auxiliary, Unit 363, which supports the American Legion in Winnebago, Neb. and with Girl’s Inc, a civic organization in Sioux City, Iowa that encourages young girls to be strong, smart and bold.

“The award is presented yearly to 10 currently serving military members and DoD civilians and is a handmade shadow box with a feature that symbolizes an eagle feather painted with patriotic colors,” said Garceau.

“Eagle feathers are sacred in my culture and are definitely earned,” explained Ross.

In addition to be recognized by SAIGE, Ross also attended the National Training Program hosted by the organization in Scottsdale, Ariz. The program featured a track for currently serving military members and veterans. The track included presentations on veteran programs and leadership. There was also a prayer jar ceremony to honor Army Spc. Lori Piestewa who was killed in action during the invasion of Iraq. She was the first female service member and the first Native American female to loss their life in combat.

“My favorite speaker was Dan King, a Vietnam Veteran who is a poet and public speaker,” said Ross. “He read some of his poetry that dealt with his personal journey with post-traumatic stress disorder.”

For more about the Society of American Indian Government Employees, visit their website at www.siage.org.