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S. Korea to provide masks and sanitizers for Navajo veterans

S. Korea to provide masks and sanitizers for Navajo veterans

Posted May. 19, 2020 07:48,   

Updated May. 19, 2020 07:48


The 70th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee announced Monday that it will provide 10,000 face masks and hand sanitizers for the Navajo veterans, the “unsung heroes” of the war on the Korean Peninsula.

Boasting the biggest population among the Native American Tribes, the Navajo Nation sent forth some 800 soldiers to South Korea in the 1950s. It was during the Second World War that the Navajo tribe began to prevail in battlefields. After the Japanese deciphered into the American intelligence system, the U.S. army embarked on the development of impregnable codes, and it was the Navajo’s vernacular that was used in the code-making. The U.S. trained Navajos as “codetalkers,” who played a pivotal role in turning the tide of the Pacific front during the war as members of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

Among them, the 800 Navajo soldiers volunteered for the Korean War as codetalkers. Their presence during the Korean War remained confidential until it was declassified in 1968 by the U.S. government. The Navajo’s contributions during the war were adapted into the movie “Windtalkers” in 2002.

It is estimated that there are about 130 survivors among the Navajo veterans who fought in the Korean War. Most of them are reportedly residing in desert areas such as Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, making it hard to pursue economic activities. The provision of face masks and hand sanitizers will be made in assistance with the South Korean consulate in Los Angeles, the Korean community in Arizona and the Korean Missionary Association in America. Back in 2016, the Ministry of Patriots and Veteran Affairs delivered peace medals to 35 Navajo veterans to commemorate the 66th anniversary of the Korean War.

Kyu-Jin Shin newjin@donga.com