New grave markers for Comanche Code Talkers

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LAWTON, Okla. (AP) - The heroic deeds of a group of Comanche Code Talkers are finally getting recognition thanks to the hard work of the Comanche Indian Veterans Association.

The association, led by Commander George Red Elk, spent much of a recent Saturday planting new grave markers at the burial sites of 12 veterans. While the previous grave markers acknowledged the military service of the men, they didn’t feature any indication they were Comanche Code Talkers or that they were Congressional Gold Medal recipients.

“We want to let everyone know these men were Code Talkers and they helped win World War I and II,” Red Elk said.

This project came about after the grave marker for Red Elk’s father was stolen. He went to the Department of Veterans Affairs to request a new marker, but wanted to ensure it indicated his important service in the war and the later accolades he received, even after his death. Wanting to extend that honor to others who had died, Red Elk reached out to Lawton Monument Company to produce markers for 22 others.

“We wanted to make a big deal out of this,” he said. “By the time they were recognized for their work, they were all passed.”

The new markers were planted in cemeteries in Walters and Fletcher and more will be planted later.

Each marker was inscribed with the person’s rank, full name, Army and either World War I or World War II, Comanche Code Talker and Congressional Gold Medal 2008. Fourteen of the markers were also inscribed with Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame 2011.

Each planting was accompanied by a ceremony, in which Chaplain Jimmy Caddo prayed for the deceased. A ceremonial cigarette was lit, so that the smoke could carry the prayers to heaven.

Surviving family members were present at some of the ceremonies.

Red Elk told those in attendance the CIVA did not plant the markers for recognition, but so that the men who sacrificed so much could finally be recognized for their work to help end both world wars.

“We have had a lot of folks say they appreciate what we’re doing out here,” he said. “And that feels good, but we’re not doing this for a pat on the back. We’re doing it for our veterans so they will be remembered.”

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Information from: The Lawton Constitution, http://www.swoknews.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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