Created on Tuesday, 28 June 2022. 23:19
By ARIADNE WILL
Sentinel Staff Writer
After a six-month wait due to COVID-19, a small ceremony was held last week to pay honor to the family of Tlingit Code Talkers Harvey Jacobs and Mark Jacobs Jr.
The recognition of the two Sitka men, now deceased, was presented on behalf of Alaska Native Brotherhood and Alaska Native Sisterhood.
Pete Karras Jr. and his daughters accepted the recognition on behalf of the Jacobs brothers, his uncles. Karras is the son of the late Bertha Karras, the brothers’ sister.
ANB Grand Vice President Woodrow Watson has been traveling to various Southeast communities to present the honors earned by five World War II servicemen, all of whom died before being recognized for their special service on the front lines of the war.
Along with the Jacobs brothers, Robert Jeff David Sr., Richard Bean Sr., and George Lewis Jr. have been recognized by ANB and ANS as having served as Code Talkers in the Pacific Theater.
The names of the Tlingit Code Talkers – whose work was similar to the more famous Navajo Code Talkers – were declassified by the U.S. Department of Defense only in 2013. Soon after, Congress awarded silver medals to 33 tribes whose members included Code Talkers.
State recognition followed in 2019.
The recognition from ANB and ANS came in a resolution passed by the Grand Camps of the ANB and the ANS in October 2021.
The resolution supports “full recognition of these brave men in written history and that a memorial be established and plaques be placed on their graves honoring their work.”
All five Tlingit Code Talkers attended boarding schools whose policy, the resolution says, was “to destroy Native languages.” It was those language skills – that children were harshly punished for – that later aided the U.S. military in World War II.
The resolution cites the Code Talkers’ World War II service that includes 800 communications during the battle of Iwo Jima, alone.