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Last of the 'Code Talkers' dies at 86

Meskwaki Indian saw WWII service in Africa

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The last of the Meskwaki "Code Talkers" - native American Indians trained during WWII to use their native tongue as a code for radio communications - died last Saturday in Iowa aged 86.

Frank Sanache was the last of 27 members of the Meskwaki tribe who enlisted in the Iowa National Guard in 1941, and he subsequently saw brief action in North Africa before being captured. Sanache saw out the rest of the war in a POW camp in Poland, the New York Times reports.

The Meskwaki were among 18 tribes whose language skills were put to use by the US military. The most famous were the Navajo, and twenty nine of their number received the Congressional Gold Medal from president Bush in 2001. The Meskwaki, however, never got such acknowledgement, despite lobbying by two Iowa senators. Earlier this year, the Iowa Legislature passed a resolution asking Congress to recognize the Meskwaki for their heroism.

Sanache recalled that his walkie-talkie training lasted two months, followed by a year's jungle training in Louisiana. He noted that on active service he had little chance to use his language skills because of the limited number of fellow Meskwaki speakers and the walkie-talkies' short range. ®

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