United Tribes News

Acts of Sacrifice
By Shiela M. Netterville (Standing Rock) Early Childhood Education Graduate

27 April 2009

BISMARCK (UTN) - My stepfather, Tom Yellow Wolf, had forwarded an e-mail to me that was titled “Sack Lunches.” It was about how a guy had bought sack lunches for a group of servicemen he was flying with on an airliner. They were headed for training before deployment to Afghanistan and he saw they didn’t have money to buy lunch on the long flight. Without them knowing, the man paid for their meals.

      His gesture was noticed by other passengers, who joined him in honoring the young soldiers by handing him money to be part of his act of kindness. Even the airline captain shook the man’s hand saying when he was a military pilot someone had once bought him a lunch and it was something he never forgot. The e-mail ended with the man giving the servicemen all the money, which was enough for another meal. As they left, feeling the love and respect of their fellow travelers, the man said he whispered a prayer for their safe return. They were preparing to give their all for our country and he could only give them a couple of meals.

Sage Koch

      It was a touching story and when I was done reading I could barely see through my tears. Tom had prefaced the e-mail with a message of his own, recalling a similar incident when he returned from Vietnam. A grizzled old guy paid for his breakfast in the Minneapolis airport. He said he recognized the patch on Tom’s uniform and it was the same unit he served with in WWII. He didn't say much, just smoked a cig, drank his coffee, and without any fanfare paid the check when he left.

      I never used to be affected so much by stories of military sacrifice. When I saw one on TV or in the paper, I would feel bad for the people and think to myself, “I’m glad I’ll never have to deal with that.”

      But now it’s different. My brother, Sage Koch, is a soldier.

      Sage was born when I was 18 and had my own son. Andru and Sage grew up together. They fought like brothers and stood up for each other as brothers. When Sage was a teenager, he found his passion in running. He ran track and cross-country for Bismarck High School and earned acclaim as a distance runner. In his senior year he placed 7th in the state cross country meet, 5th in the 3200 meter run of the state track meet, and 6th in the 1600 meter run. I was proud of him, as was the entire family.

      After graduation he became a student at United Tribes Technical College and ran cross country for the Thunderbirds in 2006. I joined him at UTTC in the spring of 2007. But there was another calling ahead that took me by surprise. Sage had mentioned the service but I didn’t take him seriously. Well, he made a decision and joined and soon he was on a path of honor and sacrifice. On February 27, 2009 I gave him a hug and said, “Good bye Sage, take care and remember I Love You!”

      By the time you read this he will already be in Iraq. He is protecting our country by putting his life on the line for us – so we can enjoy our freedom. My brother has grown into a man and I am very proud of him and his accomplishments, and his willingness to sacrifice for me and others.

      He followed his father, Tom Yellow Wolf’s, footsteps to serve our country and fight for it. I know his father is very proud of him and he is rewarded with knowing that he helped raise a fine man.

      A couple of days before he left, Sage wrote in Facebook that he “is gonna be unselfish and soon leave loved ones behind and go into harms way!! Iraq here I come!!”

      It brought tears to my eyes to read this from my own brother. I will be praying for him and his safe and healthy return home. I ask that you honor him too and that you honor his commitment to all of us by keeping him in your prayers.


Contact Us

United Tribes News
3315 University Drive
Bismarck, ND 58504

(701) 255-3285 ext. 1386