of us have heard that ARGO won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Picture.
It tells the story of what became known as The Hostage Crisis in
Iran in 1979. What most of us do not know is that one of those prisoners
held for 444 days under what is described as horrible conditions
was a Kiowa Indian named Rick Kupke.
According to various news sources, Rick spent 21 years in the
U.S. Foreign Services. Just before his capture in Iran, he was assigned
to the U.S. Embassy in Teheran as a communication specialist and
was the last American to surrender during that attack when he was
caught carrying the shotguns and rifles to the roof of the Embassy.
He was one of 52 Americans captured.
Rick has stories of how he and the other hostages tried to pass
time in their maximum security prison by playing tricks on each
other and inventing games. During their captivity, they suffered
lack of food and bathroom facilities, they were moved many times,
experienced mock execution ploys, and torture. Other prisoners were
beaten, placed in solitary confinement, endured interrogations lasting
up to 12 hours, and he and two other were forced to play Russian
Roulette several times.
In spite of his past experiences, since then Rick has become
a popular speaker about his service to his country, his detention
as well as his accomplishments. In a recent article in his tribal
newspaper, he spoke about his lifelong pride of being Kiowa and
how all his life it has always remained his goal to conduct himself
in a manner that would reflect favorably on the Kiowa people.
Before Iran, Rick had served his country in electronic intelligence
gathering in the U.S. Air Force and with the U.S. Department of
State in assignments in Sri Lanka, the Sinai Field Mission in the
Sinai desert, Iran, The Philippines, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Mexico.
He has earned many awards and much recognition during his service
to his country.
Rick currently lives with his wife in Texas where they both
are involved in the silversmith art. He has recently been honored
at an event at the Kiowa Tribal Museum opening the exhibit in his
honor entitled "I Was One of Them."
In receiving the honor, Rick spoke in detail of his 444 days
of captivity, but with tears in his eyes he received the recognition
heaped upon him by his tribe and the museum. The Kiowa Gourd Clan
commissioned and presented him with a deerskin proclamation created
by Sharon Ahtone Harjo recognizing his service to his country. He
was presented a plaque of recognition and a Pendleton blanket with
the Kiowa Seal.
YouTube has a series of videos about this museum event:
www.youtube: Rick Kupke at Kiowa Complex Veterans Day 2012, -part
1-12 (12 links)
News, Nov. 16, 2012 Issue 29 Page 2