Dvids – news – Solomon Atkinson, native of Alaska: father, patriot and compatriot

SAN DIEGO – Alaskan native Solomon Atkinson has led an extraordinary life. He left his community and his career as a commercial fisherman to serve 22 years in the military and become one of the first US Navy SEALs. A husband, father, mayor, veterans affairs advocate and community leader, his life accomplishments, by anyone’s standards, are simply remarkable.

“Ground, [as he was often called], did what he thought was best for his family, his community and his country, ”said JoAnn Atkinson, Sol’s wife. “He did what any man would do: follow his heart and do his best. “

Sol was born in 1930 in Metlakatla, Alaska, and raised by his parents in a small Tsimshian village located along Port Chester Bay on Annette Island. It remains the only Indian reservation in Alaska.

The small village of less than 500 inhabitants provided ample space for Sol to develop her skills for hunting, fishing and living off the land. As the son of a successful fisherman, it’s no surprise that he follows in his father’s footsteps. When Sol was older he would come home from boarding school in the summers to work fishing alongside his father.

“It was one summer, while fishing near Seattle, that he saw an Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) recruiting poster,” JoAnn said. “He thought it looked cool and at that point he decided he wanted to become a frogman [the precursor to present day SEALs]. “

At 21, Sol decided to leave his community and enlist in the US Navy. In 1953, he volunteered for the UDT teams and became a frogman as he imagined him. When the first SEAL teams were formed in 1962, Sol volunteered again and became one of the first Navy SEALs and one of 60 board owners, or founding members, of SEAL Team 1.

As a SEAL, he deployed to Korea and the Pacific, completed three combat missions in Vietnam and became a SEAL instructor for new recruits, where he received the nickname “Mean Machine”.

“He earned this nickname because he was in charge of [physical training] for new hires, ”said JoAnn. “Sol has always been passionate about his career. He was your typical SEAL: work hard, play hard.

Sol reached the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 4, received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, and retired in 1973 after 22 years of service. Just days after his retirement ceremony in Little Creek, Va., Sol and his family drove their Ford Econoline van over 3,500 miles to Metlakatla.

In retirement, Sol volunteered his time to talk to young people in local schools. It was not uncommon for him to show off his most precious possession, a plaque signed by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Jim Lovell and many other astronauts from when Atkinson was the underwater bodybuilding class supervisor for astronauts enrolled in the school of underwater swimmers. in Key West.

After Sol returned home to Alaska, he continued to serve his people, state and nation on the Indian Community Council and the Board of Education, as the founder and chairman of the first organization of veterans on Annette Island, and as mayor of Metlakatla.

“What is truly remarkable about Sol is that after retiring from the Navy, he returned home to Metlakatla and continued to serve his country and his community,” said US Senator Dan. Sullivan of Alaska in a statement submitted to the Congressional Record. in 2017.

“He played a lead role in the Ministry of Defense innovation readiness training program. [Sol] was one of the most vocal advocates of the Alaskan veterans, leading delegation teams to lobby [Washington], and before the Alaska State Legislature, “said Sullivan”[Sol] has spent decades reaching out to fellow veterans to ensure they receive the benefits, honor and dignity they have earned.

During a trip to Washington in 2001, Sol and his team were to meet at the Pentagon with the US Army Corps of Engineers about a project in Alaska. The night before, he received a phone call: the meeting had been canceled. The next morning, Sol learned the news that the Pentagon had been struck by a plane on September 11.

“One of his colleagues will tell us later that when [Sol] discovered, it was like a switch, it went into SEAL mode, ”said Maria Hayward, Sol’s daughter. “He quickly organized a plan to get his team to a safe place and keep them away from any potential danger. “

Sol received various types of training throughout his naval career and used it to the greatest good. As passionate as Sol was in the Navy, he was just as passionate about the members of his community.

“He was very serious in everything he did,” said JoAnn. “And he did it with all his heart.”

In recognition of his life of service, Sol received the Governor of Alaska’s Veterans Defense Award in 2018. When he accepted the award, Sol said, “Everything I do is for my people. , not for myself.

Surrounded by his family at his home in Metlakatla, Sol passed away in July 2019.

In the days leading up to his death, Sol received a call from the Secretary of the Navy thanking him for his service. His SEAL teammates were there to support him and remind him that he had paved the way for the pursuit of the legacy.

Family and friends, including JoAnn and Maria, attended a ceremony in San Diego hosted by SEAL Team 1 on August 19 to honor the passing of one of their board owners.

“This tradition serves to honor the memory of the founding members of our community, to remind current members of command of the legacy of special naval warfare, and to provide surviving families with a connection to the service of loved ones,” said a SEAL. in active service. officer who serves as command historian for the SEAL 1 team.

“Chief Warrant Officer 4 Sol Atkinson was a dedicated family man, patriot and soldier of his country,” said the SEAL 1 team commander. both in uniform and outside. , and all the teams are certainly remembered for everything he did.

Sol was passionate about many facets of his life. Of all that he has done, one of them stands out the most.

“Her biggest achievement has been to be a husband, a father of four, a grandfather and a great-grandfather for all,” said Maria. “He had a life full of love.”

Native American Heritage Month provides an opportunity for the Navy to recognize the service and contributions of Native Americans. This year’s theme, “Rooted in Tradition, Resilient in Spirit,” reflects the rich culture and heritage of Native American communities and their strength to endure the most difficult times.

“As we look at this year’s theme, let’s celebrate past accomplishments and current service to Native Americans and Alaska Natives, but also take the time to engage and learn about cultural traditions, backgrounds and the experiences of our colleagues, ”said Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro. “Let us remember how essential the inclusion of many experiences, talents and perspectives is to mission and operational readiness.”

There are more than 23,000 active Sailors, 850 full-time support, and 655 selected American Indian or Alaska Native Sailors serving in the Navy today.

Naval Special Warfare is proud to celebrate the legacy, service and contributions of our teammates and is committed to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in our policies, programs and operations.

Date taken:11.22.2021
Date posted:22.11.2021 16:59
Story ID:409827
Site:SAN DIEGO, California, United States

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