Unsung Heroes

propic11_1_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

Lloyd Schuyler, Rupert Adams, Hudson Doxtator, Rimton Doxtator.  Do these names mean anything to you? They should. They were proud men, members of the Oneida Tribe of Native Americans whose tribal lands are situated in and around Green Bay, WI, a town that is more notable for it’s NFL Green Bay Packers than these men of bravery who posthumously received the Gold Congressional Medal of Honor in a ceremony held on the Oneida Reservation May 23, 2014. It’s been a long time coming for these specialists who served bravely in WWII. Their unit? US Marine Code Talkers.

Although it is the Navajo tribe that is most known for being Code Talkers, there were many tribes involved who received no recognition until lately, after many were deceased. The reason? They gave an oath never to reveal their part in the war, thus receiving no heroes welcome upon their return to America after the war. Many took the secret to their graves, never divulging how important their unit was in the war.codetalkr

Code Talkers weren’t a new idea in WWII. The Choctaw Tribe, serving in the US Army, created the unit in WWI. This unit was named the Choctaw Code Talkers. However, the name Code Talker is generally referred to as the Navajos who served in the US Marines in WWII.  During the war, the Japanese managed to break almost every code the United States military could come up with. The Japanese were fluent in many languages and had decoders who could almost always crack codes, thus obtaining strategic military decisions that helped them in battle.

You may wonder why Native Americans were willing to serve in  Wartime for a country who had robbed them of lands, culture and language for so long. The answer is that Native Americans come from a long line of Warriors and it is an inbred spirit that calls them to protect what is rightfully theirs. So they came in droves to enlist in the service and join the league of Americans who fought for their country against Hitler. In 1942, according to records, 99% of all healthy Native Americans had registered for the draft.flag I read an anecdote that made me smile while researching this post.  One Native American who offered to fight was turned down because he had no teeth.  His answer?  “I don’t want to bite them, I want to fight them!”

Phillip Johnston, a Civil Engineer who was brought up on the Navajo Reservation as the son of a missionary and was fluent in the language, approached the US Marine Corps at the start of WWII.  He suggested there be a unit devised to train and use the Navajo as Code Talkers, as their dialect and language could not be understood because it was used solely on the reservation. Handpicked Native Americans became a class of soldiers never honored, but instrumental in helping to win the war. Johnson was given the go-ahead to train 200 Navajo as Code Talkers and it was proven that these men could encode, decode and transmit a 3-line English message in 20 seconds. At the time, decoding machines took 30 minutes. The first 29 Navajo to graduate helped establish and invent an alphabet based on Navajo words. These soldiers were known as the “29”.  Because of their hard work, the Japanese could not understand the missives sent back and forth about strategy, location and other necessary contact information.

The irony of this is that Native Americans had, in the past, been forced to conform to English and lose their native tongue. An Oneida veteran, Cletus Ninham said, “My mom used to be punished.  She would actually be beaten to stop speaking her language.”

Native Americans were excellent in basic training. With a history of marksmanship, patrolling, and scouting they made names for themselves. They were better able to endure thirst and loss of water than a normal soldier. They took to commando training; after all, their ancestors had invented it!  One Native American soldier became a commando unit’s leading German-killer. These men were tough, they were focused, and they were fighting for their homeland. iwojima

Code Talkers were praised for the taking of Iwo Jima.  Six Navajo Code Talkers were employed around the clock, sending and receiving over 800 messages, all without error. Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division signal officer, stated, “Iwo Jima would never have been taken by the Marines were it not for the Navajos.”

These Code Talkers were protected at all cost. Their unique specialty insisted that they be kept as safe from harm as possible as they were the only way the Americans could transmit and decode messages that could not be translated.

The declassification of the project in 1968 allowed President Ronald Regan to present Code Talkers with Certificates of Merit in 1982. After a bill signed by President Bill Clinton in December 2000, the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, and the Silver Medal to the approximately 300 other Native Americans who qualified as a Navajo Code Talker. President George W Bush personally handed out the Gold Medals to the five living Code Talkers, one of who could not attend.

President George W Bush Jr signed the Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008 into law. This law depicted that all Native American Code Talkers (from both WWI and WWII) be honored for their service by presenting each tribe with a Gold Medal (to be kept in the Smithsonian Institution). Each Code Talker received a Silver Medal duplicate.DCF 1.0 So, back to Lloyd Schuyler, Rupert Adams, Hudson Doxtator and Rimton Doxtator, who have finally received the recognition they deserved. In the ceremonies on the Oneida Reservation in Green Bay, WI, it was a happy day for surviving relatives of the four Code Talkers from their tribe who served bravely in WWII and came home just like any other soldier.

Except, they weren’t.

Comments welcome.

The 2002 Movie Windtalkers was based on the Code Talkers in WWII.  You can see the video trailer here, and if you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it.

Here’s a book I found on Amazon that looks like a great read about this subject. Code TalkerCode Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII Chester Nez with Judith Schiess Avila





Photo Credits:




Research Credits:

Native Americans in World War II

The Code Talkers of World War II

We Are Green Bay.com



The Washington Post


Books by L.Leander:

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INZARED Book Cover_1Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders






Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer



Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)






13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing13ext






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You can also find L.Leander here:

L.Leander Website

Amazon Author Page

Facebook Author Page

L.Leander Books Blog

L.Leander’s Book Reviews and Interviews




19 thoughts on “Unsung Heroes

  1. Very interesting, Linda! Enjoyed learning more about these very special war heroes. Have heard of them but knew no details. How sad it was posthumously that they received recognition. What an inspiration these code talkers are. Great blog. Neva


    1. Thank you Neva. I found it interesting to research. Of course, I had seen the movie Windtalkers so I had a pretty good idea of the unit’s work in WWII, but until a local newscast reported the four Oneida members who were also part of the Code Talkers, I got really interested. They definitely helped win the war!


  2. Great new information on the Indian code talkers. Since high school and college I’ve been a big reader of World War II books. In the ’70s and ’80s I belonged to the military book club, so this post of yours was wonderful reading. I do believe there was a movie made about the code talkers sometime in the last five to 10 years, but I can’t recall the title.


    1. Thank you Mike. I did mention the name of the movie in the post – it was Windtalkers. There’s a link to the video trailer too. I, too, have enjoyed reading some WWII books but not as many as you!


    1. Thank you Gayle for the link to the song. It’s awesome and i wish I had known about and included a link in the post. Guess I didn’t think about researching on You Tube. I have always been interested in Native American history, even before my husband found out he is Chippewa. What sparked my interest in writing this post was the ceremony they had for the four Oneida men who were part of the Code Talkers. It was covered heavily on the news here and I remembered liking the movie Windtalkers. I decided to do some research and came up with way more than I included in the post. It’s amazing to me that 99% of Native Americans answered the call to the draft and some of them became the best soldiers the US had.


  3. Thanks for commenting Abbie. Actually, the Navajo were most known for being Code Talkers because it was their language that was used and they were the first to become the unit. However, in my research I found that many other Native American tribes had one or more who became part of that elite unit.


  4. I’d heard of the Navaho code talkers, of course, but didn’t know other tribes were involved too. Did they use Navaho also, or their own language? Fascinating that they all kept the secret so long.
    Great post.


    1. Thank you for the comment Kate. The Code Talkers language was based on the Navajo language so every tribe that made it into the elite unit had to learn their alphabet to send messages. I was very surprised, too, that almost every Native American tribe seemed to have at least one or two in the unit. They had to pass a strenuous test to be accepted and had a “babysitter” to be sure no harm came to them. I couldn’t believe it when I read that some Code Talkers took the secret to their graves. They came home and instead of a heroes welcome they were just like any other soldier. But without them it has been said we would never have won the war!


  5. Very very interesting, L. I’ve heard about the Code Talkers but never knew much about them. I have nothing but the utmost respect for these people who so humbly served our country. I also like the “I don’t want to bite them, I want to fight them” remark. Priceless.


    1. I had never heard of the Code Talkers until I saw the movie ‘Windtalkers’. At the time I thought I’d do more research and when I saw our local news broadcast about it I decided it was time. These men are heroes and should have been recognized a long time ago. I love the remark about ‘bite them, fight them’. I laughed when I read it. It was also amazing to me that 92% of Native Americans signed up for the draft. That shows their respect for this country.


  6. Linda, I know I commented on this post, but I don’t see it. Thank you for opening a world of vision to us, that I never knew existed. I have Indian blood in me, so I should learn more about the Indian ways, but it’s a small amount. I do remember my Great-grandmother dressed in her Indian clothes and Jewelry. I used to have some of the jewelry, but it burned up when I lost my house. Cher’ley


    1. I remember you posting. But I don’t see it either! My interest in the Native American culture comes, of course, from my husband’s finding out a year ago that he is Chippewa. Since then we have both been researching more of his heritage and it is fascinating!


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