Code Talker: Fort Belknap man receives medal for WWII service
January 20, 2014
Gilbert Horn was honored Thursday for his service during World War II as a Native American code talker.
At Northern Montana Care Center, many were gathered in a recreational room to pay their respects to the veteran who put his life on the line fighting Japanese forces in Burma with the other soldiers in Merrill's Marauders.
Merrill's Marauders was a special forces unit that fought in southeast Asia and in this unit, Horn found himself often pinned down in foxholes behind enemy lines for days.
Horn was one of 51 men from Fort Belknap and Fort Peck Indian reservations sent to fight. He and his fellow soldiers would speak in the Assiniboine language over radios in order to keep enemy forces from hearing information about their whereabouts or plans.
His son was the first to speak of the man's accomplishments. He told visitors the few stories his father used to tell him about the war, which was not much since he did not talk about it very often. His father did speak often of the "old Indians" and their ways to his family.
Horn's great-grandson sang him a traditional song and played the drum in his honor.
Kenny Ryan, the program specialist at Fort Belknap, presented Horn with the medal for his service.
"Seventy-one years ago, the Japanese attacked us ...," Ryan said. "When he was a young man, he put his name down."
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., sent a message to voice his gratitude to a fellow veteran as well.
"After decades, Native Americans are getting the recognition they deserve," Tester's message read.