CRESTVIEW — Strength, honor, pride, devotion and wisdom are personal qualities that mark a veteran, Kirby Locklear, in full Native American regalia as guest speaker at the Crestview Public Library, said Tuesday.
"There is a long participation with Native Americans in the military for more than 200 years," Locklear said, noting 1800s American Indians’ duties.
"Scouting the enemy was a particular skill of the Native American soldier," Locklear said. Scouts helped pursue Mexican Revolutionary general Pancho Villa in 1916 and served in the Spanish- American War.
American Indians played a bigger role in World War I and World War II, Locklear said, praising Navajo Indians who created a secret code that opposing Japanese forces couldn't break.
The subject particularly interested Crestview resident Michael Warren.
"I came to learn more about the code talkers; I recently started reading a book them," said Michael, a member of Emerald Coast Young Marines, which prepares young men and women for the U.S. Marine Corps.
Locklear, a Lumbee Indian tribe member, was born in Robeson County, N.C., home of the tribe ranked as the ninth largest in the country, according to lumbeetribe.com.
Locklear enlisted into the U.S. Air Force after graduating from high school. His career took him to many places across the globe and awarded him several high honors.
There was one airbase in particular that Locklear seemed to favor most.
"I got one of the best assignments you could get (while in the Air Force)," Locklear said. "I was stationed at Hurlburt Field in 1980."
He returned to the area, having been stationed elsewhere, in 1992. He finished his career in 2000 as lieutenant colonel with 3,100 flight hours.
When he isn't working at Duke Field as a defense contractor, he often volunteers for the American Red Cross in Okaloosa and Walton counties and is the Thunderbird Intertribal Council’s vice chair.
Attendees Tuesday participated in a traditional Native American dance, following Locklear's lead and moving to the beat of Native American music around the meeting room.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.