Hopi Council approves funds for Code Talker memorial

KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. - To honor the Hopi Code Talkers who served in World War II, as well as other Hopi veterans, the Hopi Tribal Council recently approved spending $50,000 for bronze plaques and renovation of the Hopi veterans "Wall of Honor" at the Hopi Veterans Memorial Center.

One plaque will honor the eight code talkers of the U.S. Army's famed 323rd Infantry Regiment, 81st Infantry Division. The soldiers developed a code using the Hopi language to transmit secure radio communications in combat.

The plaque will say, in part, that the Code Talkers' use of the Hopi language "confounded the Japanese and contributed to the liberation of the South Pacific islands and final victory against the military forces of the Empire of Japan in World War II." It will be dedicated on Nov. 11.

Twelve new separate bronze plaques will honor all Hopi veterans who served honorably in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf wars, as well as in peacetime. They will replace six existing plaques and will add new names of about 270 veterans to total 674.

Included in the approval was the cost of renovating and enlarging the existing "Wall of Honor" so more plaques may be added in the future, and so it can withstand the elements for 25 years.

"Their (veterans) sacrifice and devotion to duty needs to be recognized," said Eugene "Geno" Talas, director of the Office of Hopi Veterans Services, in asking the council to approve allocating money for the project.

Vietnam veteran Clifford Thomas Balenquah Qotsaquahu added, "Our veterans and their families have played a vital role in our community. Let's do something for the code talkers. This is a small thing. Right now, simple recognition is all we can get."

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