Friday, June 26, 2009

American Indian Marine represents family, heritage in Corps

26 Jun 07
Sgt. Anthony Guas
2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (FWD).

AL ASAD, Iraq - It is estimated that more than 12,000 Native Americans served in the United States military in World War I. There are more than 190,000 Native American military veterans; as the years continue to compile, so do the numbers of Native Americans in the military.

One of those Native Americans is Lance Cpl. Molly Sixkiller, an EA-6B Prowler electrician for Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 1.

“I’m proud to be who I am, I’m proud to be a Sixkiller,” said the Phoenix, Ariz., native. “My mother is from Arizona and is all Navaho. My father is from Chicago, (Ill.) and is Pima, Papka and Cherokee, so I am all mixed up.”

Sixkiller began her journey with the Marine Corps when she enrolled in the delayed entry program Sept. 29, 2005.

“I wanted to be one of the first in my immediate family to join one of the services,” said Sixkiller. “I picked the Marine Corps because I had to join the best.”

Sometimes a decision like joining the military is not supported by family members, but that does not hold true for the Sixkillers.

“(My parents) are proud that I am in the Marine Corps and are very supportive,” said Sixkiller. “My little brother looks up to me and wants to join the Marine Corps as well. He should join very soon.”

Although she joined the Corps and is now many miles from her family, Sixkiller continues to participate in her family’s rich traditions.

“We do keep some traditions alive, it has dwindled down to very few things nowadays, but we have powwows,” explained Sixkiller. “They are basically get-togethers for family and friends that we know. We have our traditional moments, basically a big ceremony.”

Sixkiller’s pride in her heritage carries into everything that she does. Competing against the best in her squadron, Sixkiller proved to her command that she is an outstanding Marine by taking the VMAQ-1 Marine of the Quarter Board.

“It was a good feeling (to win), I get to go up on another board for meritorious corporal,” said Sixkiller. “I’m happy about getting the chance. There is a lot more responsibility and I’m ready to take it.”

For Sixkiller being an aircraft electrician is more than just a job, it is a career choice.

“I enjoy my job very much and plan on pursuing it as a career after,” said Sixkiller. “We do a lot of exterior and interior lighting and a lot of systems. Basically we deal with all the wires in the jet. I picked my job when I joined the Marine Corps, because I wanted to pursue this field.”

Sixkiller’s high level of motivation and dedication is something that is recognized by her peers and superiors throughout the squadron.

“She constantly displays excellent initiative,” said Staff Sgt. Shawn E. Tate, electronics shop staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge for VMAQ-1. “She is always the go-to person, if a plane lands she is out and on it. Any job that comes up, she is the first one on it.”

Not only is Sixkiller a hard-working Marine, she also interacts professionally and proficiently with her fellow Banshees.

She gets along with everyone very well, she is great at exchanging information,” said Tate, an Augusta, Ga., native. “She is like a sponge, learns everything really quick.”

Although her career is uncertain, Sixkiller is certain about plans for her immediate future.

“Right now it’s a little to soon to tell if I am staying in or not,” explained Sixkiller. “After (preparing for the boards) I plan to study more and get (more qualifications). I also plan to help the junior Marines, achieve some of the same goals.”

Although her name is uncommon and may draw more attention than Smith or Johnson, Sixkiller is proud of her heritage and willing to share her story with anyone.

“Sometimes I will be walking to chow or something and someone will walk by and look at my name twice, ‘Your name is Sixkiller? What’s your background?’ and I’ll tell them a little about myself,” explained Sixkiller. “I am proud, this is who I am.”

Photo - Lance Cpl. Molly Sixkiller, an EA-6B Prowler electrician for Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 1, climbs up on one of the squadron’s aircraft to conduct a turnaround inspection after it returned from a flight, June 5.

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