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Communities and countries are strengthened by the diligent service of their citizens.
In this, Metlakatla and the United States of Alaska benefited greatly from the quiet service of Solomon Atkinson, who died Tuesday in Metlakatla at the age of 88.
Much has been said Atkinson’s place in history as a member of U.S. Navy SEAL Team One, the first of the now legendary unit created by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. He served three combat tours in Vietnam, earning a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. He trained new SEAL recruits, and nearly 50 astronauts.
Mr. Atkinson served his country well during a military career than spanned from 1951 through 1973, earning the full gratitude of the nation.
Then he returned to his home in Metlakatla, where he continued to serve in different roles on behalf of veterans and the Metlakatla community.
Over time, he served on the Metlakatla Indian Community Council, Annette Island School District Board Education, and as the mayor of Metlakatla. He advocated for veterans in Metlakatla, in Alaska, and in Washington, D.C. He did so with dignity and honor.
That Mr. Atkinson achieved so much and served so diligently over a full lifetime testifies to a strength of character and inner fortitude. Mr. Atkinson’s commitment improved both community and country, and his absence will be felt deeply by his family, friends, neighbors and fellow citizens.