Sioux City, Iowa --
In observance of National Native American Heritage Month, celebrated the month of November we reflect on the contributions Native Americans have provided to the military and society. According to the Office of Management and Budget, Native American culture is rich in diversity with 567 different federally recognized tribes that have many different beliefs. Native Americans and Alaska Natives throughout history have shown resiliency, strength, and pride within the military and the community.
The Navajo Code Talkers used their native language to decipher messages so the enemy could not obtain strategic plans in both World War I and II. According to the Army there are 29 Native Americans that have received a medal of honor for their bravery and sacrifice on the battlefield. In fact Native Americans have contributed more to the military than any other ethnic group. According to the Veterans Affairs Administration, between 1941 and 1945 over 44,000 Native Americans served in the military.
James Elliot “Willie” Williams is the most decorated enlisted man in the U.S. Navy’s history. He served in both the Korean and Vietnam wars. On May 14, 1968, Williams was presented the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the dedication ceremony “Hall of Heroes” for his courageous actions. He became one of thirty-two Native Americans to receive the Medal of Honor (Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, 2018).
American Indians and Alaska Natives have courageously defended and shaped our country’s character and continue to build legacies of freedom and diversity.
The Department of Defense, along with the rest of our nation, expresses our gratitude and appreciation for the accomplishments and undeniable contributions of the first Americans (DEOMI, 2018).