Official websites use .gov
Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
1,275 Officers 0.6%
14,559 Enlisted 1.4%
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. William R. Frye is the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Europe and Africa sergeant major. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in July 1989...
Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Lawrence L. Chapman Jr. was born and raised in Jena, Louisiana. He is a member of the Jena Band of the Choctaw Indian tribe, whose ancestral...
Marine Corps Master Sgt. Bryant B. Aguero is a native of Arizona. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in March 2000. He attended initial training at Marines Corps...
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. William R. Frye is the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Europe and Africa sergeant major. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in July 1989 and completed recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina. He attended the Basic Field Artilleryman Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he graduated as a field artillery cannoneer.
From 1990 to 1994, first as a lance corporal, then as a corporal and then as a sergeant, he was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 14th Marines; 2nd Battalion, 10th Marines; 11th Marines; and 1st Battalion, 8th Marines. He participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and Operation Continue Hope, and he deployed to the Far East, Norway and the Mediterranean.
In May 1996, Sgt Frye was transferred to Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 12th Marines and was promoted to staff sergeant. In September 1998, he reported to Drill Instructor School at Parris Island. Upon graduation, he was assigned to the 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Alpha Company. During this tour, he was selected and meritoriously promoted to gunnery sergeant. In November 2001, he was transferred to Golf Battery, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marines. He deployed to the Mediterranean and participated in combat operations in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan, with 1st Battalion, 6th Marines.
In October 2004, Frye was assigned to Headquarters Battery, 10th Marine Regiment, where he served as the batter’s gunnery sergeant and first sergeant. In January 2005, he was promoted to first sergeant and was transferred to Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines. During this tour he participated in combat operations in Fallujah, Iraq,with Regimental Combat Team 8. In January 2006, he was transferred to the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force in Indian Head, Maryland, where he served as the first sergeant for React Company, Alpha Company, Headquarters and Service Company, and as the battalion sergeant major. Upon completion of this tour, he was promoted to sergeant major.
In May 2009, Frye was transferred to the 2nd Marine Division as the sergeant major of the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines. During this tour, he participated in two combat deployments with Regimental Combat Teams 1 and 5 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In February 2013, he was transferred to the Marine Corps Security Forces Regiment in Yorktown, Virginia, to assume the duties as the regimental sergeant major. In 2015, he was assigned to his current position.
Frye’s personal decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with combat distinguishing device and two gold stars in lieu of third award, Meritorious Service Medal with gold star in lieu of second award, Navy and Marine Commendation Medal with combat distinguishing device, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with four gold stars in lieu of fifth award, and Combat Action Ribbon with one gold star in lieu of second award.
Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Lawrence L. Chapman Jr. was born and raised in Jena, Louisiana. He is a member of the Jena Band of the Choctaw Indian tribe, whose ancestral home is in the same region.
While growing up in the tribe, he served on the Tribal Youth Council to provide advice on challenges facing the tribe’s younger members.
On Nov. 11, 1998, He joined the U.S. Marine Corps and attended boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego from July to October 1999.
Between October 1999 and August 2000, Chapman attended Aviation Electrician schools in Pensacola, Florida, and Lemoore, California. Upon earning his military occupational specialty, he was sent to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, as an F/A-18 Hornet aircraft electrical systems technician.
In 2001, Chapman deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Constellation to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch. During the deployment, he earned a meritorious promotion to corporal for his work ethic and ability to lead. After the deployment, Chapman joined VFA-25 at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California in January 2002, where he was assigned as shift supervisor for the electrician work center to support the training of F/A-18 Hornet aviators.
Chapman then moved to the East Coast and joined VMFA (AW)-224 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, in June 2004 where he made several deployments including al-Asad, Iraq and Iwakuni, Japan, from 2005 to 2009. While there he was promoted to staff sergeant.
In January 2010, Chapman was assigned to Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit Oceana, Virginia, to be an F/A-18 electrical systems instructor. During this time, he earned the designation as a master training specialist and was promoted to gunnery sergeant, and then assigned as the Marine Corps Student Liaison where he found his passion of advocating for Marines.
Chapman was then selected to join the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, Blue Angels, and reported to Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, in November 2013. He served as the senior enlisted marine and simultaneously held the positions of avionics division chief, maintenance controller, and quality assurance supervisor. He was selected for promotion to first sergeant in December 2015, and was assigned to Intelligence Support Battalion, New Orleans in Louisiana, in June 2016.
Over the last few years, Chapman became increasingly involved with the tribe to help revive their ancestral language of Chahta by participating in classes to connect six tribal members from three different states and enabling all to begin to learn their language.
He also attended the tribe's youth summer cultural camp in 2014 as a mentor/chaperone, as well as taking on increasing roles in the tribe's annual Pow Wow by showcasing the their native Chahta language.
Chapman is married to Jessica Melanie Chapman from Germany. They have one son, Jonathan Lavelle Chapman.
Marine Corps Master Sgt. Bryant B. Aguero is a native of Arizona. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in March 2000. He attended initial training at Marines Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.
Upon completion of initial training, Aguero attended Field Radio Operators School at Camp Pendleton in Twenty-Nine Palms, California, where he was promoted to private first class. He was subsequently assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, at Camp Pendleton.
While serving with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, he was assigned as a field radio operator in October 2000. He was meritoriously promoted to lance corporal in 2001.
While deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, he assisted in the humanitarian assistance mission in support of East Timor. Upon his return he was assigned to Headquarters and Service Company, and became a radio supervisor in preparation for deployment to Iraq in 2003. While in Iraq he was promoted to sergeant.
In 2004, Aguero received orders to report to the Basic Recruiters Course in San Diego. Upon completion of the course, he was assigned to the Recruiting Sub-Station in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he served as canvassing recruiter and assistant noncommissioned officer in charge.
While on recruiting duty he received a merit-based promotion to staff sergeant in 2006. He was Recruiting Station Phoenix’s Rookie Recruiter of the Year in 2005, Recruiter of the Year in 2006 and was recognized as a Centurion for enlisting 110 recruits in 36 months.
Aguero was then assigned to 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company at Camp Pendleton, where he served as radio chief for the 1st Brigade Platoon. In 2009, he was assigned as brigade platoon sergeant, and was promoted to gunnery sergeant in 2010. In 2010, he was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Upon his return in 2010, he received orders to 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion. In February 2011, Aguero was assigned to Marine Special Operations, Company B, as communications chief, deploying in October 2011 to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and again in June 2013 for a subsequent combat tour.
Aguero was transferred to the 6th Communications Battalion in August 2015, and he is currently the operations chief and senior enlisted advisor for the General Support Company.
Aguero’s personal decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (gold star in lieu of 3rd Award), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medal (gold star in lieu of 2nd Award), and Combat Action Ribbon (gold star in lieu of 2nd Award).
Soldiers Update: Spc. Lori Piestewa
The Story of Medal of Honor Recipient Master Sgt. Woodrow W. Keeble
"This month, let us celebrate the traditions, languages, and stories of Native Americans and ensure their rich histories and contributions can thrive with each passing generation."
- President Barack Obama
The month of November is designated by Congress and the president as a time to reflect on the rich traditions and accomplishments, as well as the suffering and injustices, that mark the history of American Indians and Alaska Natives. The theme for 2016, "Serving Our Nations," was chosen by the Society of American Indian Government Employees.
National American Indian Heritage Month celebrates and recognizes the accomplishments of the peoples who were the original inhabitants, explorers and settlers of the United States. Currently, there are 566 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and more than 100 state-recognized tribes across the United States, each with their own unique history, beliefs, governance structure and culture.
Sovereignty is the right of a nation or group of people to be self-governing, and it is the most fundamental concept that defines the relationship between the U.S. government and governments of American Indian tribes. American Indians and Alaska Natives are U.S. citizens and citizens of their tribes. They are subject to federal laws, but they are not always subject to state laws.
In 1924, Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act, also known as the Snyder Act, giving American Indians the right to vote. After a survey in 1938 found that eight states still prohibited Indians from voting, several cases were brought to the Supreme Court. Utah, Minnesota and Arizona were the last states to allow the vote, and it wasn't until 1965 that all barriers to American Indians' suffrage were eliminated in the United States.
In 1914, Red Fox James, a Blackfeet Indian, rode on horseback from state to state, seeking support for a day to honor American Indians. A year later, James presented the endorsements of 24 state governments to the White House. There is no record of a national day being proclaimed, despite his efforts.
Sequoyah, a Cherokee who was born around 1776 in present-day Tennessee, was a silversmith who joined the U.S. military during the War of 1812. Observing how the white soldiers communicated via the written word, he invented a written alphabet for the Cherokee language, using 85 written symbols to represent syllables. He later became a statesman and diplomat for the Cherokee people.
Horses were native to North America, but had disappeared by about 8000 B.C. and were unknown to the Indians when the Spanish arrived. By 1700, horses were roaming wild in the Southwest, and they thrived on the grasslands of the plains. Indians quickly adopted the horse, which enabled them to hunt buffalo more efficiently.
Buffalo were a mainstay of culture as well as a primary means of survival for American Indians on the Great Plains. Buffalo hides were used to make clothing, teepees, furniture, moccasins, religious regalia and drums. Hooves were used ceremonially to make implements, utensils and glue. The bladder served as a storage pouch. Meat was used for food and in ceremonies. Fat and marrow produced food, paint and cosmetics. Fur was used ceremonially and to make rope. Buffalo dung provided fuel.
In 1890, the Miniconjous of the Lakota Sioux at Pine Ridge, South Dakota -- led by Sitting Bull -- planned to perform a religious ritual called the Ghost Dance. Two federal agents went to arrest Sitting Bull at his home in North Dakota, where he was shot and killed during the argument that followed. The Miniconjou people fled south, where they were captured and surrounded by Army troops in Wounded Knee, South Dakota. In the confusion, a gun fired and the troops began to fire upon the unarmed Indians. It is believed that as many as 300 men, women and children were killed in the Wounded Knee Massacre.
Around 1804, the Poncas began to practice the ceremony that led to the powwow. They called it the Hethuska. They passed it to the Kaw, who gave it to the Osage. Then the Omaha incorporated the ceremony, which was passed to the Lakota (Sioux) tribe. It became popular in the late 1890s. During this time, the Omaha, or "Grass" dance as it was then called, spread quickly. The Grass dancers danced for the purpose of dancing itself, not religious ceremony.
In 1898, the Curtis Act dissolved Indian Territory tribal governments by abolishing tribal courts and subjecting all persons in the territory to federal law. Under this act, towns could be surveyed and incorporated, residents were permitted to vote, and the establishment of public schools was sanctioned.
Starting in World War I and again in World War II, the U.S. military employed a number of American Indian servicemen to use their tribal languages as a military code that could not be broken by the enemy. These "code talkers" came from many different tribes, including Chippewa, Choctaw, Creek, Crow, Comanche, Hopi, Navajo, Seminole and Sioux. During World War II, the Navajos constituted the largest component within that elite group.
On Nov. 20, 2013, American Indian code talkers from 566 tribes were honored with Congressional Silver Medals, and leaders from the tribes' 33 nations received Congressional Gold Medals. These medals recognized the contributions of the code talkers during World War I and World War II, when they used their native languages to encode secret or sensitive information so that the enemy could not decipher radio transmissions.
American Indians and Alaska Natives come from a multitude of different cultures with diverse languages, and for thousands of years used oral tradition to pass down familial and cultural information among generations of tribal members. As contact between Indians and non-Indians grew, so did the necessity of learning new languages. Even into the 20th century, many American Indians and Alaska Natives were bilingual or multilingual as a result of learning to speak their own language as well as English, French, Russian or Spanish, or even another tribal language.
Maria Tallchief, an Osage Indian, became a successful ballerina and in 1981 founded the Chicago City Ballet with her sister Marjorie. Tallchief is considered America's first major prima ballerina, and is the first Native American to hold the rank.
During World War I, more than 8,000 American Indian soldiers, of whom 6,000 were volunteers, served. Their patriotism moved Congress to pass the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. In World War II, 25,000 American Indian and Alaska Native men and women fought on all fronts in Europe and the South Pacific earning, collectively, two Medals of Honor, at least 71 Air Medals, 51 Silver Stars, 47 Bronze Stars, and 34 Distinguished Flying Crosses. Alaska Natives also served in the Alaska Territorial Guard.
At the 1964 Olympics, Sioux Indian 1st LTt. Billy Mills, a Marine Corps reservist, set a world record and won the gold medal in the 10k race event. He remains the only American to win gold in the event. Following this accomplishment, Mills played a keystone role in the foundation of Running Strong for American Indian Youth – an organization dedicated to helping Native American youth lead healthy lifestyles and take pride in their heritage.
Ohiyesa, also known as Dr. Charles Alexander Eastman, was born in 1858 on a Santee Sioux reservation in Minnesota. He graduated from Dartmouth College, and then from medical school. After graduating, he worked as a doctor for the Indian Health Service on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where he treated those injured in the U.S. Army attack on Lakota Chief Big Foot's band at Wounded Knee. In 1910, he helped to establish the Boy Scouts of America.
Historically, American Indians have the highest record of military service per capita when compared to other ethnic groups. The reasons are deeply rooted in traditional cultural values that drive them to serve their country. These include a proud warrior tradition, best exemplified by the following qualities said to be inherent to most, if not all, Native American societies: strength, honor, pride, devotion and wisdom. These qualities closely correlate with military tradition.
In 1924, the passing of the Citizenship Act made all Indians citizens without impairing their status as tribal members. Nevertheless, few Indians were permitted to vote before the 1960s.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs was established in 1824, and it is the oldest bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior. It serves about 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. The BIA is responsible for the administration and management of 55 million surface acres and 57 million acres of subsurface minerals estates held in trust by the United States for American Indians, Indian tribes and Alaska Natives.
More than half of the U.S. states trace their names to Indian origins: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Nancy Ward was the daughter of a Delaware man and a Cherokee woman. When her husband, a Cherokee warrior, was killed in a battle, she donned men's clothing and took over her husband's role in the fight. In recognition of her actions, she was given a position on the Council of Chiefs, making her possibly the first Cherokee woman to wield such power. She was awarded the title of "Beloved Woman," which gave her the responsibility of deciding the fates of prisoners, and she spent the remainder of her years working for Indian-White peace.
In 2002, astronaut and Chickasaw Indian John Bennett Herrington became the first enrolled member of a Native American tribe to orbit the Earth. He carried a ceramic Hopi pot emblazoned with three corn motifs into space, 250 miles above the surface of the planet. Herrington also carried a decorated eagle feather given to him by an Elder of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, which was floated in the International Space Station airlock.
"Every year, our Nation pauses to reflect on the profound ways the First Americans have shaped our country's character and culture. The first stewards of our environment, early voices for the values that define our Nation, and models of government to our Founding Fathers—American Indians and Alaska Natives helped build the very fabric of America. Today, their spirit and many contributions continue to enrich our communities and strengthen our country." —President Barack Obama
As commissioner of Indian affairs under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, John Collier crusaded to prevent the absorption of the American Indian culture into mainstream American society, and questioned the wisdom of such decisions. During his time in office, Collier reformed Indian religious freedom, public relief and conservation programs, as well as protection and retention of tribal land.
Keith Harper, a member of the Cherokee nation, became the first member of a federally recognized Indian tribe to serve at the U.S. ambassador level when he was confirmed as U.S. representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2014. In his career as an attorney, he has focused on issues involving injustice against native peoples.
Parkas, a perennial fashion staple, were first worn by Indians and originally taken up by whites as military garb. Ponchos—another common Indian clothing item—became popular during World War I as soldiers' rain gear. Indian moccasins have been adopted as house slippers, and people living in snowy climates rely on Indian-originated snowshoes.
Many aspects of American Indian and Alaska Native culture have remained a staple in modern-day American life. The hammock, common in many different Indian cultures, found its way onto Navy and merchant-marine ships as a space-saving bed. Nowadays, they can be found in our own backyards!
As the first people to live on the land we all cherish, American Indians and Alaska Natives have profoundly shaped our country's character and our cultural heritage. Today, American Indians and Alaskan Natives are leaders in every aspect of our society—from the boardroom to the battlefield, to the classroom.
Download Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute Presentation
Download Observance Poster