UPDATED 7:19 AM PT — Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Decades after the end of WWII, Alaska is honoring the sacrifices of the Tlingit code talkers. State lawmakers passed a citation this month, posthumously awarding five Alaskan natives who were able to outsmart the Japanese by speaking in their native language.
Even their families were not aware of their service, because the military ordered the men to stay silent about their contributions in case the codes were needed again in a future war. Family members are now saying they are happy their loved ones are getting the same recognition as the Navajo code talkers.
“The Navajo code talkers have long been recognized…for the crucial role they played in WWII, but until very recently, no one knew that Tlingit code talkers also were used during that war,” said Senator Gary Stevens of Alaska. “Because they maintained confidentiality, there may be many other Tlingit code talkers who have yet to be identified.”
Congress posthumously awarded the Tlingit code talkers with the Silver Medal back in 2013.
150,000 of the nation’s veterans identify as Native American or Alaska native.