Archive for December 3rd, 2012

Montana National Guard’s 495th Combat Service Support Battalion has less than a dozen Native American members.

That’s only 14 percent of the unit, is set to deploy soon to Afghanistan. Still, as Missoulian reporter Martin Kidston explains, that’s a higher-than-usual percentage of Native members.

    FORT HOOD, Texas – After stepping off the firing range on the north side of this massive military base, Sgt. Serena Spotted Elk-O’Brien inverted her weapon and considered her heritage.

    As a member of the Montana National Guard’s 495th Combat Service Support Battalion who’s deploying to Afghanistan, staying true to her Native American roots will play an important role in the year ahead.

    “My friend gave me some sweetgrass to take with me,” she said Friday morning. “Whenever I’m out and about, she wanted me to have the sweetgrass because it helps us send our prayers.”

    Spotted Elk-O’Brien is one of roughly 10 Native Americans from Montana heading to Afghanistan with the 495th this month. While not great in number, they represent around 14 percent of the deploying unit, more than most Native American soldiers are accustomed to.

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