Vol. LIV No. 5
May 2019

Tribe, Dustin Mater honored for unique special operations patch

ADA, Okla. – Governor Bill Anoatubby joined renowned Chickasaw artist Dustin Mater to celebrate a Mater-designed patch to be worn by a special operations unit.

Officials of the 137th Special Operations Security Force Squadron unveiled the patch designed for the Oklahoma-based unit.

The patch features an ancient Chickasaw mace – an ornamental staff carried as a symbol of authority – a Southeastern tribal tomahawk and woodpecker motif connecting the two. “Pugnentes Humi Ruberis” adorns the top. The Latin words mean “Warriors of the Red Soil” to illustrate the squadron’s Oklahoma roots.

“What we were shooting for was ‘red earth warriors or red dirt warriors,’ Richard Young, chief master sergeant and the squadron’s security forces manager, said.

“We wanted an emblem that had the Native American-Oklahoma ties in it. The Chickasaws showed immediate interest in designing the patch.”

Officials met with Mr. Mater 16 months ago to launch the project.

The patch went through several modifications before approval as an official Air Force heraldry patch in August by the Air National Guard History Office, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

“We wear it with pride,” Maj. Joshua Odquist told Gov. Anoatubby following a ceremony at the Chickasaw Veterans Lodge. Maj. Odquist is the squadron’s commander and anti-terrorism officer.

He formally presented Gov. Anoatubby with a squadron badge and “challenge coin” featuring Mr. Mater’s art.

Mr. Mater received a framed patch in Chickasaw Nation colors of red, blue and yellow. The framed emblem is the first one produced in full color. Uniform patches are in subdued, military-issue tones. The new emblem may be used in full color on letterheads, cards, stationery, challenge coins and other special occasions, Chief Master Sgt. Young said.

“I’m proud to have had the opportunity to design this emblem for the Air Force,” Mr. Mater said.

“He is quite a talent,” Gov. Anoatubby said of Mr. Mater. “We are blessed to have him. We are thankful for him and thankful to you for providing service to our country.”

Mr. Mater wore a special bandolier for the ceremony in honor of his family’s turtle clan. Fashioned in Chickasaw tribal colors, the bandolier features elaborate beading of imagery important to Chickasaws centuries ago, including a turtle (“loksi”) and designs that mimic pucker-toe moccasins.