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Bald Eagle To Be Released

Contact: Angela Cato, Arts & Cultural Services |

Ceremony honors two fallen Wichita soldiers

A rehabilitated bald eagle named Spirit will be released back into the wild during a 2:15 p.m. ceremony on Saturday at the Mid-America All-Indian Center, 650 N. Seneca. The event will be preceded by two showings of the film "American Eagle" at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The film gives supporting information about eagles and their offspring. The entire afternoon is being dedicated to Sgt. Eric Nettleton and Spcl. Thomas Moffitt, two Wichita soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The public is welcome.

Ken Lockwood of the Eagle Valley Raptor Center in Cheney will be Spirit's handler. Before Spirit takes flight, Elder Mark Brown from the Lakota tribe will bless the soldiers' families and the eagle. The American Indian Southern drum group with play journey songs as she flies away.

This will be the third time that the Eagle Valley Raptor Center has released a rehabilitated bald eagle back into the wild. The Indian Center was chosen as the setting for this release for two reasons: American Indians consider eagles to be sacred, and they have a long tradition of military service.

In addition to the families of Sgt. Bettleton and Spcl. Moffitt, many American Indian veterans will be in attendance.

Spirit was found on Dec. 24 near the Ninnescah River in Sedgwick County. Spirit had a shot pellet embedded in the leg and a severe case of lead poisoning – mostly likely from eating a deer that had been shot with lead bullets. Spirit underwent many weeks of treatment and monitoring at the Eagle Valley Raptor Center, a facility whose mission is to care for nature's injured and orphaned wildlife.

To read about Spirit’s entire rehabilitation process, go to and click on “Special Events.”

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