Last Meskwaki 'Code Talker,' Dies at 86

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Aug 25 14:20:08 UTC 2004

>>From the New York Times,
August 25, 2004
Frank Sanache, 'Code Talker,' Dies at 86

TAMA, Iowa, Aug. 24 (AP) - Frank Sanache, the last of the "code talkers"
from the Meskwaki Indian tribe, died here on Saturday. He was 86.
His death was announced by the Hand Funeral Home here.

Mr. Sanache was one of eight Meskwakis trained to use their language as a
code on walkie-talkies in World War II. The Meskwaki, based in Tama
County, were among 18 tribes that contributed code talkers during the war.
But their achievements went largely unnoticed because the code was
classified until 1968.

Twenty-nine original Navajo code talkers were presented with the
Congressional Gold Medal by President Bush in 2001. The Meskwakis never
received that recognition, although Senators Charles E. Grassley,
Republican of Iowa, and Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, both pushed for it.
Twenty-seven Meskwakis enlisted in the Iowa National Guard in 1941 and
were activated in the Army's 34th Division.

This spring, the Iowa Legislature passed a resolution urging Congress to
recognize the Meskwaki code talkers for heroism.

Mr. Sanache had little opportunity to use his language skills after being
shipped to North Africa because of there being so few Meskwakis and
because of the short range of the walkie-talkies. He was captured just
five months after he arrived in North Africa and spent 28 months as a
prisoner of war.

In an interview, Mr. Sanache recalled that walkie-talkie training had
lasted two months, followed by a year of jungle training in Louisiana.
After his return to Iowa, Mr. Sanache worked for 38 years at a paper mill.

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