View Full Version : Codetalker recieves recognition

07-23-04, 07:07 AM
Codetalker recieves recognition <br />
Submitted by: MCB Quantico <br />
Story Identification #: 2004722173439 <br />
Story by Cpl. Clinton Firstbrook <br />
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MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va (July 9, 2004) --...

07-23-04, 07:07 AM
"We appreciate all of the recognition, but it's so late in the whole situation [that] by the time we were allowed to talk about what we did most of the first 29 [who developed the code] were gone," said Billison. "Only 20 years after the war, most were already gone. They never told anyone what they did-how they developed the code. Even myself, my parents died before 1968 and I never told them what I did, either."

Billison works tirelessly to raise funds for the Code Talkers Association, funerals for his fellow code talkers, scholarships for descendants of the code talkers and the construction of a National Code Talker Museum. He also travels around the country for interviews and presentations on the history of the code talkers.

"I'm just trying to keep the story of the code talkers alive," said Billison. "Our goal is to have the people understand what we did and how important and sacred the Native American language is."

Billison has spent his life serving his community. He worked in education for 30 years. He has served two 4-year terms on the Navajo Tribal Council, his most recent term ending in January of 2003. He is the current chairman of the Kinlichee School Board, the current President of the Navajo Code Talker's Association, and the voice of the "GI Joe" Code Talker action figure.
On July 9 of this year, the Daughters of the American Revolution recognized Billison for his accomplishments, awarding him the DAR Medal of Honor. Past recipients include Charlton Heston, Tom Brokaw and Rudolf Giuliani.

"The Charles Dibrell Chapter nominated Dr. Billison because of his credentials," said Alice Jones, New Mexico state recording secretary. "He has a long history of community and patriotic service. He's such a genuinely giving individual and has a lifetime in the service of education and giving back to others."

When taking the stage Billison opened with YAH-TA, the Navajo word for hello. He then had everyone repeat it and said, "you all just broke the code."

"It could've been anybody who received this award," said Billison. "There are so many people who have done a lot of good things and should be recognized. I appreciate this honor very much."

Of the 29 original code talkers only four are still alive today. And of the 420 Navajo that followed, there are only about 100.

"Some people say the war in the Pacific would not have been won if not for the code talkers," said Billison. "This is a statement the code talkers stay away from. They fought to protect their country. To them, it was just the right thing to do."