ROLAND — A stretch of U.S. 64 from the eastern city limits of Roland to the Oklahoma-Arkansas state line was renamed Wednesday the Cpl. Joshua Jerold Ware Memorial Highway. Ware was a 20-year-old Marine who was killed in action in Iraq on Nov. 16, 2005. “I don’t think anyone knows how strong his feelings were to serve his country,” said Greg Wilson, Roland city administrator. Ware was serving his second tour of duty when he was killed in Ubaydi, Iraq, while conducting combat operations during Operation Steel Curtain. Oklahoma state Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, himself a Marine who served during Operation Steel Curtain, said of combat, “And I tell you, it’s not like it is in the movies. It’s 10 times worse.” Bennett said, “It’s an absolute honor to be out here today to honor Joshua Ware, a Comanche warrior, an American warrior. It’s all the same thing. … It takes a special type of man to stand there when someone is firing bullets at you and lean forward, and lean forward.” Ware was of Comanche descent and was a member of the Kiowa Tribe. Many people don’t know that the tribes are the most represented ethnic group per capita in the U.S. military, said J.T. Goombi of Anadarko, a former chairman of the Kiowa Tribe and a former first vice president of the National Congress of American Indians as well as a relative of Ware’s parents. About 75 people attended the dedication ceremony, hosted by the town of Roland, Bennett and state Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro, and held off the highway’s westbound lane in the Mike’s Furniture parking lot. Attendees included Ware’s parents, Alicia and Randy Mammedaty; his siblings; grandfather Patrick Oyebi; representatives of the Native American Marine Corps Veterans; Ton-Kon-Gah, the Kiowa Black Legging Warrior Society; Comanche Indian Veterans Association; American Legion; Oklahoma Highway Patrol; Roland Police Department; Oklahoma Department of Transportation; and more. Ware graduated from Roland High School in 2003, and five days later enlisted in the Marines, Wilson said. “It was Joshua, not some reporter somewhere, who gave us freedom of the press. It was Joshua, not some poet, who gave us freedom of speech,” Wilson said not only of Ware but also of other servicemen and -women who gave their lives for their country. Wilson read a town proclamation declaring Nov. 16 Joshua Jerold Ware Day. The highway sign will be an ongoing reminder of how proud area residents are of Ware’s service, he said. According to his obituary, Ware was assigned to the Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and attached to the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). Ware and four other Marines were killed and 11 were wounded in an ambush while hunting for insurgents at a farmhouse. Sixteen rebels in and near the house were killed during the gun battle. Ware’s decorations include the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; the National Defense Service Medal; the Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with two Bronze Service Stars; the Purple Heart Medal and the Combat Action Ribbon with a Gold Service Star. Randy Mammedaty thanked attendees. “And all my people who are here … for representing our son, Josh,” Ware’s father said. Randy Mammedaty said his son moved to Roland to attend high school, then moved back home to Apache, but he returned after a year to graduate with his Roland class. Randy Mammedaty’s voice choked as he noted that the family travels U.S. 64 daily from Muldrow to Fort Smith and will see the Cpl. Joshua Jerold Ware Memorial Highway sign every day, as will many from other parts of the country. “And people will see it and say, ‘Thank you, Josh.’ We thank you, Roland. Thank you,” Randy Mammedaty said. When Bennett and Wilson presented a sign to the family for those who are not able to drive past the Roland sign, Alicia Mammedaty hugged Bennett. Wilson said the family approached him, asking for a way to memorialize Ware, but he had little success. Then Allen and Bennett stepped in and ushered through the state Legislature a bill renaming the highway. Wednesday’s dedication included an honor guard bearing the flags of the United States, Oklahoma, Marine Corps, Kiowa and Comanche nations. The guard included Marine veteran representatives from both tribes, and was escorted by representatives of the Kiowa Black Legging Warrior Society, accompanied by drumming and chanting. The national anthem and the Kiowa Flag Song, the tribe’s equivalent to the national anthem, were performed as attending veterans saluted. Ware’s grandfather sang the Desert Storm Song composed by Comanche elder Melvin Kerchie. Zackery Brown performed the Marine Corps Hymn on the trumpet. Opening and closing prayers were offered by the Rev. Brian Sheppard.
Source: Southwest Times Record (Fort Smith, AR) – Thursday, November 17, 2011