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Louis Levi Oakes Receives New York State Liberty Medal


SRMT Chief Michael Conners Jr., American Legion Post 1479 Adjutant Dwight Bero and New York State Senator Betty Little (R, C, IP-Queensbury), 45th Senate, as they unveil the plaque honoring Oakes into the NYS Veterans Hall of Fame.

Akwesasne Mohawk Code Talker and Congressional Silver Medal Recipient Louis Levi Oakes was presented with the New York State Liberty Medal by New York State Senator Betty Little on June 8, 2018 at the American Legion Post 1479. The New York State Liberty Medal is one of the highest civilian honors issued by New York State and is bestowed upon individuals who have merited special commendation for exceptional, heroic, or humanitarian acts and achievements. The medal was presented to Levi Oakes for his role as an Akwesasne Mohawk Code Talker during World War II. As well, a plaque was unveiled to honor Oakes' induction into the New York State Senate Veteran's Hall of Fame on May 15, 2018.

Dwight Bero assisting Senator Little as she presents Levi Oakes with his Hall of Fame plaque, Certificate of Recognition and a box of chocolates.

Levi Oakes is one of 17 Akwesasne Mohawks to be recognized by the U.S. Congress as a Native American Code Talker. Mr. Oakes registered at the age of 18 for the U.S. Army, and served for six years as a Technician 4th Grade with Company B's 442nd Signal Battalion. He received his training as a code talker, along with other Akwesasne Mohawks, while stationed in Louisiana. During WWII, the Mohawk language was one of 33 Native languages used to send communications between U.S. forces. The Native American Code Talkers are known the world over as having the only unbroken military code in history; the Japanese never interpreted these messages in WWII.

TEC 4 Oakes served as a code talker in the South Pacific, New Guinea and Philippines theatres during WWII and was awarded the Silver Star for his service. The Silver Star is the third-highest military combat decoration for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States. Oakes served with distinction and received an honorable discharge on February 15, 1946.

Oakes worked for 30 years as an ironworker in Buffalo, New York and later for the highway department in Akwesasne before retiring. Currently 95 years old, he is the sole-surviving Akwesasne Mohawk Code Talker to receive recognition for valor while engaged in military operations.

Among his family members attending, Oakes also had a full American Legion honor guard, local dignitaries, and news media from across the North Country.


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