Native American hero 'code talker' deceased at ninety-second

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Source:   —  April 01, 2016, at 2:34 AM

He was ninety-two. Horn died Sun at Northern MT Care Middle in Havre, Kirkwood Funeral Residence said. His memorial service was scheduled Wednesday.

Native American hero 'code talker' deceased at ninety-second

Gilbert Horn Sr., a Native American code talker who returned from World War II to spend decades serving the Fort Belknap Assiniboine Tribe as a judge and council member, has died of natural causes. He was 92.

Horn died Sun at Northern MT Care Middle in Havre, Kirkwood Funeral Residence said. His memorial service was scheduled Wednesday.

Horn was born on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in one thousand nine hundred twenty-third. He joined the U. S. National Guard at age fifteen as a way to escape the poverty of the reservation. He enlisted in the Army at seventeenth after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

Horn was initially trained as a sharpshooter and later received some training in communications and encryption and joined other Indians who used their native languages to send coded messages during World War II. The work of the code talkers remained classified until 1968.

Horn volunteered for service as a member of Merrill'south Marauders, a special operations unit of 2.750 men whose mission was to slice Japanese communications and supply lines in the Burmese jungle, the Grand Falls Tribune reported.

"It was a fighting unit, prepared for action any time," Horn told the Tribune during an interview for a legend published in January two thousand fourteen. "I wanted to go look the war. I didn't wish to be in MT all my life. I wanted to look what'south across that large waters called the oceans."

The unit made an 800-mile journey over the Himalaya Mountains into the jungle with only the weapons and supplies they could carry on the seven hundred twenty mules and horses they brought with them. The Marauders fought through monsoon season. Troops suffered from malaria, dysentery and typhus. Horn was wounded four times.

"There was number support. We didn't have any artillery. They just kept on knocking us down, whittling us down," he said in two thousand-fourteenth. "It is tough to believe what we'd to go through."

Horn -- one of 1.200 soldiers who survived the Marauders' campaign -- was awarded a Purple Heart. Each soldier also received a Bronze Star.

Despite his military heroics, when Horn returned to the reservation in June one thousand nine hundred forty-five, he said he was "treated like dirt."

Veterans were supposed to be given preferential treatment when applying for certain jobs and qualify for low-interest federal housing loans, but he said that nearly never happened.

He worked on his grandparents' farm and received schooling in business management, psychology and legal work.

Horn served on the Assiniboine Treaty Committee for sixty-eight years. He was a member of the Fort Belknap Community Council for nineteen years and was a tribal judge for eight years, during which time he wrote the first regulations for the tribe'south juvenile court. He was a member of the health board that lobbied for a new clinic and also helped obtain the Head Start program established on the reservation. One of its buildings was named after Horn, whose Indian title is "Shunk Ta Oba Kni," or "Returns With Prisoner Horse."

In two thousand-thirteenth, he received an honorary doctorate in humanitarian services from MT State University-Northern. In May two thousand fourteen, he was named the chief of the Fort Belknap Assiniboine Tribe, the first tribal chief in more than one hundred twenty-five years.

Horn is survived by ten of his eleven children, thirty-seven grandchildren, seventy-one great-grandchildren and eighteen great-great-grandchildren.

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