WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps has concluded that David Tsosie served as a Navajo Code Talker during World War II and is entitled to a Congressional Silver Medal that had been denied to him.
Tsosie, 79, had expected to get his medal during a ceremony last year honoring hundreds of other Navajo Code Talkers. But the Marine Corps said it lacked proof that Tsosie had actually been one of the group, which shipped messages coded in their native language in the war's Pacific theater.
But after further investigation, the Marine Corps found that Tsosie graduated from Navajo Communications School on Sept. 7, 1943, and that he was entitled to an award, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Rep. Thomas Udall (D-N.M.) said Friday.
The two lawmakers who sponsored the legislation to honor the Code Talkers with congressional medals of honor, had urged the Pentagon to investigate Tsosie's status.
"Because Code Talkers were sworn to secrecy, they were not properly honored until a few short months ago, some 50 years after the end of World War II. But for Mr. Tsosie, the wait has been even longer," Bingaman said in a statement.
He applauded the Pentagon and the Marine Corps for conducting the investigation, "But most of all, I thank Mr. Tsosie for his invaluable service to our country."
In a ceremony in the Capitol rotunda last July, President Bush awarded Congressional Gold Medals to the four surviving members of the 29 Marines who developed an unbreakable code based on the Navajo language.
Several hundred others who used the code in battles on the Pacific Front were awarded the Congressional Silver Medal last November.