Lakota Code Talker Honored by Legion
by Dottie Potter
Lakota Journal Staff Writer

RAPID CITY — A Lakota Code Talker was honored in a VFW parade organized by the Legionnaires last Saturday in Rapid City.

Clarence Wolf Guts, 78, from Wanblee was finally honored 60 years after his service to his country as a Lakota Code Talker in World War II.

He rode in style in the parade in a white, Classic 1964 Ford Thunderbird convertible that was provided by McKie Ford of Rapid City.

Don Knecht, Legion Commander of Wanblee Post 269, said, “McKie Ford was very gracious—they were great and never hesitated at all to donate a vehicle for us. I talked to four or five other car dealers and they all refused when they found out what we were asking for and that I wasn’t buying—they just walked away.”

Lori Raczynski, Human Resource Director of McKie Ford, said, “We were fortunate to have one available so we were happy to help.”

Raczynski has worked at the automobile dealership for 16 years and said they had considered a white Mustang convertible, but it was up to the used car manager as to which vehicle was selected.

Joe Hockhausen, Used Car Manager at McKie Ford, said, “We’re happy to do t hat kind of stuff—he (Wolf Guts) certainly served his country and was deserving of it. We like to be good stewards of the community and give back whenever we can.”

The Code Talkers used their Native American language to confuse the enemy and prevent them from knowing what was being said. It was an unbreakable code that the enemy could never interpret.

In a previous article the Lakota Journal wrote about Wolf Guts, he was quoted as saying, “The Sioux have three dialects and the Lakota Code Talkers used a combination of Lakota, Nakota and Dakota during the war. The Japanese had a hell of a time—they couldn’t figure out what we were saying.”

Because it was top secret and classified information, very little was known about the Lakota Code Talkers until recent years when it has become public information.

Knecht said he personally became involved by trying to contact the right people when he learned that Wolf Guts was a Lakota Code Talker and had never received the Congressional Gold Medal that he was supposed to be awarded. Knecht has contacted Gov. Janklow and Senators Tim Johnson and Tom Daschle for assistance in the matter. Knecht said that Congressman John Thune was originally working on it.

Wolf Guts was born at Norris and grew up in the Parmelee area. Like many young men during that war, he quit high school to volunteer in the military and fight for his country. Now at the age of 78, he still remembers vividly just how long he served during that war.

“I was in for three years, six months and four days,” Wolf Guts remembers.

He entered the military on June 17, 1942 at Fort Crook, Nebraska and was discharged on January 13, 1946 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Wolf Guts spent two years in the South Pacific. “I did a lot of island hopping and was on most of the islands during that time,” he said.

During his military service in the war, Wolf Guts was awarded the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one Bronze Service Star, the Meritorious Service Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars and one Good Conduct Medal.

Wolf Guts did re-enlist after the war and served another three years before coming back home to the Pine Ridge Reservation.

While in Rapid City for the parade, Knecht took him to the movie, “Windtalkers ” that just opened. The movie is about the Navajo Code Talkers and their role during WWII.

Wolf Guts said that a lot of the movie was realistic but some parts were not correct. He said that the movie showed the soldiers away from their radios at certain times, and he said that they were never away from their radios in the actual combat.

“When people learned that he was a Lakota Code Talker, they came up to him and shook his hand and talked to him after the parade and again after the movie,” Knecht said.

He also said that Wolf Guts had shaken some famous hands when he was in the military because of his position. “He met Gen. Douglas McAurther and shook his hand and also the famous baseball player, Bull Halsey who was Fleet Commander in the Navy during the war,” Knecht said.

Wolf Guts will be honored for his service during WWII on Saturday in Kyle when the Korean War Veterans receive honorary degrees at the graduation ceremonies there.

Knecht expressed his thanks again to McKie Ford when he said, “They bent over backwards to help us and we really appreciate what they did.”

For Wolf Guts, who is also Vice Commander of Wanblee Legion Post 269, the celebrations and recognition is nearly 60 years in coming, but being a modest man, he said, “I didn’t do nothing very much—just did what most was doing. I lost a lot of good buddies, but we gave the Japanese hell—we did.”


© 2002 Lakota Journal

Reprinted as a historical document under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law.