Code Talkers, Unsung Heroes

This past week held a special day. It was national Navajo Code Talker Day. Sadly, the last Code Talker from this tribe passed June 14th 2014. But what many do not realize that during WWI Native Americans enlisted and from the Wah-Zha-Zhi Ni-Kah-Zhi (Osage Nation). Nearly two hundred men enlisted for the fight. What was unique about those first Native Americans, who volunteered to serve in World War I, was that they were not citizens of the United States.  Yet, “ Without regard to that lack of citizenship, members of Indian tribes and nations enlisted in the Armed Forces”  Why would they risk their lives for a country with which their ancestors had been in deadly conflicts for centuries?  For the same reason Americans were willing to give their lives to; a place that was home, a place where ancestors were buried, and were family lived.  There was a “tradition of protecting their people.”

In addition to a sense of patriotism there were other benefits for a soldier such as economic security or an opportunity for education, training, and world travel.  During World War I over 12,000 Native Americans served in the military; 10,000 in the army and 2,000 in the Navy.  This was about 25 percent of the male American Indian population at that time.  The Wah-Zha-Zhi Ni-Kah-Zhi had more men serve per capita than any other tribe.

According to records Osage Code Talkers were only made use of during World War I.  However, it is widely known that the Code Talker mission extended to campaigns in the Pacific as well as Europe during World War II and even into the Korean War.

Code Talkers were not only required to communicate native tongue code but also operate what was then technical communications equipment.  It was critical to keep strategic plans such as troop deployments, enemy locations, and other critical information classified. The languages of the Native American soldiers offered a new tactic to the military.  These indigenous languages were so unique the codes developed by the Native soldiers and transmitted to one another simply could not be decrypted.

The George W. Bush administration, with the Legislative Branch passed the Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008.  The Act issued medals recognizing the dedication and valor of this long overdue honor.  Simply stated the Act showcased that “The use of Native American code talkers was the first time in modern warfare that such a transmission of messages in a native language was used for the purpose of confusing an enemy.”  (Thanks to the Osage Tribe site http://www.osagenation-nsn.gov/news-events/news/wah-zha-zhi-code-talkers for this information)

Our annual Officer Installation Banquet will be Friday September 2nd at 6:00pm with the Legion and Auxiliary. The Legion will provide the meat dish. The Auxiliary & spouses’ will provide the side dishes and desserts. Our Installation Officials will be Lucky Ladwig (Past Department Sgt-at-Arms for Legion) and Myrna Ladwig (Past Auxiliary Department President of Skiatook. Legion).  We anticipated great time will be had by all!

Our regular meetings are the 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month at 7:00 PM. There will be a Thursday night brief meeting on that 1st Thursday 1 September for members to discuss business but the usual dinner will be reserved for the Installation banquet the next evening. The Monday morning Koffee Klatch meetings for August are still scheduled for biscuits and gravy and maybe a waffle or two and always a cup of Joe (coffee to the civilians). Keep your eye on the weather in case things have to be postponed. Be sure to watch the heat this weekend and drink plenty of water for the next day’s activities. If you are a veteran come on by. If you have a good story it may end up in print. Also keep up with us at website “americanlegion142.org”.

About Gary Lanham

Authors the weekly article "News from the Hut", about local American Legion Post #142 in Hominy, OK. Read his weekly articles in the "Hominy News Progress".
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