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Code Talkers to Get High Honors
Part 2




Clinton approves medals for WWII Navajo soldiers, Code Talkers

Associated Press

PHOENIX _ Medals will finally be bestowed upon the men who developed a series of encrypted messages in the Navajo language that were never broken by the Japanese during World War II.

President Clinton signed a bill Thursday that will grant congressional gold medals to the original 29 "code talkers" and silver medals to about 300 Navajo soldiers who followed them to the Pacific Theater during the war.

Despite having books written about them, a national day in their honor, a statue in downtown Phoenix and a museum in New Mexico that pay tribute to them, the men were never honored individually by the government.

"This is all very appropriate," said Martin Link, curator of the Navajo Code Talker Museum in Gallup, N.M. "They didn't win the war for the United States, but they certainly played a key role and this is a nice way of saying thank you."

Thomas Begay, 74, a code talker in the U.S. Marines 5th Division on Iwo Jima, is not impressed with the honor.

Begay has petitioned Congress for years to honor the code talkers with Medals of Honor. But Sen. Jeff Bingaman, R-N.M., crafted a bill to honor the men with the silver and gold medals instead.

"We should get a medal of distinction, not some medal you could buy at a flea market," Begay said. "If what we did wasn't above and beyond the call of duty, I don't know what is."

Begay said he helped craft many of the encrypted codes used on Iwo Jima and was in the process of devising others to be used in an invasion of Japan before two atomic bombs were dropped, ending the war.

According to Bingaman's office, during the first two days of the battle for Iwo Jima, the code talkers transmitted more than 800 error-free messages that were key in taking out many Japanese artillery and machine-gun positions and monitoring troop movements.


Original Code Talker dies JUNE 12, 2000

Dooley D Shorty, one of the original Navajo Code Talkers, died in Albuquerque, New Mexico on June 4. Along with 28 other Navajo men, he served an a Marine Corps Radio Operator during World War II.

Shorty trained other Navajo marines during the war, utilizing the Dine language to create a code Japanese cryptographers could not break.

On June 8, the Senate unanimously approved Senator Jeff Bingaman's proposal that would award Congressional Gold Medals to the original group and Silver Medals to the ones who followed. The proposal is part of the 20001 Defense Authorization Bill.

"We have gone far too long without officially recognizing the Navajo Code Talkers. They served with distinction by performing a unique, highly successful communications operation that greatly assisted in saving countless lives and in hastening the end of the war in the Pacific," Bingaman said last week.

The Code Talkers project was declassified in 1968 and is currently the subject of two screenplays. The Navajo Code Talkers GI Joe was unveiled earlier this year.

Servicemen from other Indian nations also served as Code Talkers, including the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Comanche Tribe.

Shorty was born June 8, 1911.

Relevant Links: From Hasbro: Navajo Code Talker

Copyright 2000 Noble Savage Media, LLC / Indianz.Com



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