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Levi Oakes (2019), last surviving Mohawk World War II code talker

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Awarded a silver star for heroic efforts during the war

Levi Oakes was the last surviving member of the Mohawk tribe in Northern New York who was a code talker in World War II. Oakes served in the Pacific during the war and was awarded a silver medal and silver star for his heroism. He saw action in the Philippines and New Guinea. After his service, he worked in the iron industry in Buffalo, New York.

Died: May 28, 2019 (Who else died on May 28?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 94.

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On his experience in the war: “We laid out the field wires out in the jungles and all of that stuff. It’s exciting but it’s not too good of a job. It’s dangerous over there! They were supposed to put me on the radio but they put me on field wire communications and all that stuff.  There’s only one or two persons I’d talk to when I was there in Mohawk. It was a secret code. We’d talk our own language in Mohawk with the other person. But they’d give us a paper to read on it and you gotta translate it.” —Oakes told WAMC in 2016

What they said about him: “By his actions, you could just tell he was a special person. He had a great spirit and a love for people — especially his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.” —Son-In-Law Mark O’Neill to the Watertown Daily Times

Full obituary: Watertown Daily Times

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