Statewide veterans group honors Southern Utes

Members of the Southern Ute Veterans Association and Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council attended on Sunday, April 7 the United Veterans Committee of Colorado's 41st annual awards banquet, where the association received a Distinguished Veterans Service Organization award. Present at the ceremony were (left to right) Larry Tucker, the association's secretary/treasurer; Aaron V. Torres, council member; Howard D. Richards Sr., council member and founding member and former commander of the association; Rudley Weaver; Ronnie Baker, former commander; Rod Grove, temporary commander; and Pete Gomez, a former probation officer for the Southern Ute Tribal Court.
Ace Stryker | Southern Ute Drum

The Southern Ute Veterans Association was honored on Sunday, April 7 with a Distinguished Veterans Service Organization award, the only one granted at this year’s United Veterans Committee of Colorado awards banquet in Denver.

The award celebrates the group for its “dedicated service to the Colorado veterans.”

“Since 1986, when three Vietnam veterans discussed Southern Ute veteran issues, you have consistently grown in assessing veteran needs and achieving positive corrective actions. The actions were so worthy as to earn formal tribal recognition in 1995,” the award certificate states. “In addition to assisting veterans, you are active in many community functions providing services and color guards at no cost. Your service is a great credit to the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council and to your state and nation.”

Present for the banquet — the committee’s 41st annual — at the Renaissance Denver Hotel were Howard D. Richards Sr., a Southern Ute Indian Tribal councilman and founding member and former commander of the Southern Ute association; Rod Grove, temporary commander; Larry Tucker, secretary/treasurer; Ronnie Baker, former commander; Rudley Weaver; and Councilman Aaron V. Torres.

“I was kind of surprised,” Grove said. “It was finally a recognition by the people in the state that they acknowledged us for what we have done.”

Grove said the committee actually invited the association to receive the award last year, but some members of the association couldn’t make the banquet — so it was rescheduled for this year.

“It was a long time coming,” he said, adding that the committee also recognized the group for its service outside the tribe, as when members carry flags during events or make presentations at local schools. “We served this country like anybody else. We didn’t ask for anything special. We did our duties. … We never ran away or burned our draft cards.”

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