Veteran Code Talkers Recognized for Military Service - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Veteran Code Talkers Recognized for Military Service

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It was never spoken of in the days of WWI and WWII.

A war position made up of Native Americans and a job gone unrecognized...

until now.

"When he would tell us to wake up he would say (*speaks in Lakota language*) you have to wake up," says Phyllis Young, Granddaughter of Joseph Pretends Eagle.

Phyllis will never forget her grandfather, Joseph Pretends Eagle.

He was a WWI veteran -- but that's all anyone ever knew.

"I'm real emotional today because I never knew my grandfather was a code talker," says Young.

"The code talkers all took an oath of honor, of silence. So each one of them did not tell their families and they died with this secret," says LaDonna Allard, Code Talker Researcher.

"He never breathed a word," says Young.

Code talkers worked to transmit secret messages -- simply because they spoke a language unknown to any other country.

"Letting them know certain kinds of tankers were coming in or certain kinds of airplanes were coming in or what kind of weapons they were using," says Jennifer Martel, Code Talker Researcher.

And what code language did they use?

"They needed to speak Lakota Dakota and knew their culture and tradition," says Allard.

Now, 95 years later, 46 veterans who took their secret to the grave, get their long overdue recognition.

Since 2008, North Dakota Senators fought to get a bill passed to acknowledge the code talkers.

"These are the people of WWI who had not went through the assimilation process, who had not lost their language. They knew who they are. These are true warriors," says Allard.

And Phyllis, who will forever cherish the voice of her grandfather, never realized that when he'd wake her up as a young girl, that Lakota language would leave behind a legacy much greater than that moment.

"I believe now that that's why he spoke the language more vigorously and he kept it alive for us," says Phyllis.

There is another list of WWII code talkers that still has to be approved.

After that, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

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