Battle Creek, Mich. –
The 110th Chaplain Corps held their 22nd Annual Prayer Breakfast at the Battle Creek Air National Guard base on Oct. 16, 2022, where more than 100 members attended to share breakfast, fellowship, and listen to two Native American Veteran guest speakers.
Chaplain Lt. Col. Kurt Taylor introduced Native American Veterans Army Sergeant Jerry Campbell and Marine Sergeant Anthony Foerster. Both men are Purple Heart recipients and members of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. They are both members of the Ogitchedaw Pokagon Band veterans, an organization that seeks to spread awareness of Native American veterans and their service to the country.
Campbell served in the Vietnam War, where he became a highly decorated Soldier. He received two Purple Hearts – (one with Oak Leaf Cluster), three Bronze Stars – (one with two Oak Leaf Clusters and “V” Device) and the National Defense Service Medal, to name a few of his many accolades. He now serves as an Ogitchedaw member for Pokagon Band veterans.
He spoke briefly of his time in Vietnam and the ailments he endured during and after the war. He holds that faith is where his resilience comes from.
“I just want to praise God because I'm telling you he has helped me to get through so many rough battles,” Campbell said. “Whether it be Vietnam, whether it be medical battles.”
As a marine, Foerster deployed multiple times as part of a Special Operations Capable Marines Amphibious Unit. He now serves as chairman for the Ogitchedaw Pokagon Band veterans committee, and is an eagle staff carrier. Veterans and warriors are chosen to carry the eagle staff for their integrity, bravery, humility, wisdom, and respect for Pokagon Potawatomi Nation traditions. He seeks to spread awareness of Native American veterans and their service to the country.
“[Native Americans] serve in the highest percentage, and there's a reason for that,” Foerster said. “Because the Native Americans, we've been here for 20,000 years, plus. We still consider this our country.”
American Indians and Alaska Natives have served with distinction in every major conflict for over 200 years at a rate of five times the national average.
These men are both extraordinarily humble. They don’t speak about their own accomplishments, but rather both speak to the deeds and character of the other.
“Jerry is very, very humble,” said Foerster about Campbell. “I would have loved to have this guy as my sergeant. He took good care of his men, he risked his life to pull his men out of bad situations. He's my real hero.”
“Anthony was raised Native American where I wasn't. He’s taught me so much about the Native culture that I didn’t realize,” said Campbell. “But this man, he talks about me being humble, he will give you the shirt off his back, I am telling you he is one of those guys who does that. He’s very bright and articulate. It’s an honor to know him. And he represents our tribe very well.”
The Prayer Breakfast ended with prayer, benediction, and a postlude of “God Bless America”.