Hundreds gather on Hopi Code Talker Recognition Day

KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. - In an official Hopi Code Talker Recognition Day ceremony, hundreds of people gathered at the Hopi Veterans' Memorial Center on April 23 to commemorate and honor 10 officially recognized Hopi Code Talkers for their service during World War II in the United States Army and United States Army Air Force.

Eight Hopi Code Talkers served in the U.S. Army with the 323rd Infantry Regiment, 81st Infantry Division, known as the "Wild Cat Division," during World War II. These Hopi soldiers developed a code using the Hopi language to transmit secured radio communications in combat. Use of the Hopi language confounded the Japanese and contributed to the liberation of the South Pacific Islands and final victory in World War II.

The following Hopi Code Talkers served in the Army: Private First Class Charles T. Lomakema "Tawayawma," Bear Strap Clan, Shungopavy Village; Private First Class Floyd Dann Sr. "Lomahuytiwa," Corn Clan, Moenkopi Village; Private First Class Frank C. Chapella "Tuukwavi," Bear Clan Tewa Village; Private First Class Percival Navenma "Masahoyniwa," Tobacco/Rabbit Clan, Mishungnovi Village; Private First Class Perry Honanie, Sr. "Wupatawa" Water Clan Shungopavy, Village; Private First Class Travis S. Yaiva "Sikyawistiwa," Bear Clan, Bacavi Village; Private First Class Warren R. Kooyaquaptewa "Shuute;" Bear Clan Tewa Village; and, Technical 5 Franklin Shupla "Awiino," Tobacco Clan;

In September 2010, Rex Pooyouma was identified as the ninth Hopi Code Talker assigned to the 380th Bombardment Group with the U.S. Army Air Force and in October 2010, Orville Wadsworth was identified as the 10th Hopi Code Talker assigned to the 90th Bombardment Group. Both were trained as part of Native American Code Talker communications network to transmit coded messages using their Hopi Lavayii in the Pacific Campaign with the Fifth Bomber Command, Fifth Air Force, United States Army Air Force.

Hopi Code Talkers that served in the Army Air Force include Sergeant Rex Pooyouma "Sekyung'yum'tewa," Corn Clan, Hotevilla Village and Private Orville Wadsworth "Dawahoynewa" Bear Clan, Shungopavy Village.

Hopi Vice Chairman Herman G. Honanie gave the opening remark.

"The valor and bravery of these Hopi soldiers saved their fellow soldiers and generations of their family members. These soldiers drew on their Hopi cultural strengths and beliefs to win the war. In their humbleness, they returned to their Hopi land never talking of their heroic actions and died with their painful memories," said Honanie.

Major General Gill P. Beck, Commanding General, 81st Regional Support Commander spoke of historical accounts, which took place during the time the Hopi soldiers served. Family members wept as they intently listened to what their loved ones may have experienced. A soldier dressed in clothing worn by the Wild Cat Division stood holding a flag of the Wild Cat Division as Major General Beck spoke.

"Ten individuals went to war without knowing what they were going into. They knew it was their duty to serve and protect our country, but they did not know they would truly bring freedom to our Nation and its people," said Hopi Chairman LeRoy Shingoitewa. "They established brotherhood with their fellow comrades and vowed to protect one another. Their contribution was through our precious Hopi lavayii."

The Hopi Tribal Council purchased a new bronze plaque, which was unveiled during the ceremony with Sergeant Rex Pooyouma and Private Orville Wadsworth listed as the ninth and tenth Hopi Code Talkers.

The Ceremony was co-emceed by Norma Nahsonhoya, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, and Bruce Talawyma, veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. Posting of Colors was performed by Fort Huachuca, Ariz., Select Honor Guard, U.S. Army, Lead Color Guard, supported by Hopi High School JROTC Color Guard and Lori Piestewa Post No. 80 American Legion. Rachael Dawavendewa sang the National Anthem as Ms. Hopi and Ms. Post No. 80 greeted the visitors.

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