Alaska to honor Tlingit code talkers

Five Tlingit code talkers who used their Native language to communicate information in

combat during World War II, contributing to American victories in the war, were honored again posthumously on March 18 for their heroism.

Japanese military were never able to decode their messages.

All five were posthumously awarded silver medals by Congress in 2013.

Alaska flags will be presented to the families of Robert “Jeff” David Sr., Richard Bean Sr., George Lewis Jr., Harvey Jacobs and Mark Jacobs Jr. in a special ceremony at the start of the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament in Juneau.

“These men never discussed their top-secret role, even decades after the war ended, in liberating millions of people and saving the lives of countless American soldiers,” said Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer. Alaska state flags will fly at half-staff for five days, starting on March 18, one day each for the five code talkers.


David served in the Philippines during World War II and was a basketball legend in Haines. He later served as one of the first board members of Sealaska Corp.

Bean served in the South Pacific, and later became a commercial fisherman in Southeast Alaska and a life member of Sealaska, Huna Totem Corp., Juneau Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Alaska Native Brotherhood.

Lewis, a fluent speaker of the Tlingit language and a lifelong member of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, served in the war and later for 45 years with the Salvation Army.

The Jacobs brothers joined the Navy shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, and served in the Pacific Theater. Park Jacobs later became a leader in Sitka and held leadership positions in the ANB, Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Sealaska and other organizations.