Honor Flight

Levi Oakes came to Plattsburgh in September 2016 to participate in a veteran's Honor Flight
Pat Bradley/WAMC

The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe has announced that the last surviving World War II Mohawk code talker has died. Levi Oakes was one of 17 Mohawks from the Akwesasne  tribe in northern New York that the Department of Defense confirmed used their native language as an unbreakable code to transmit messages during WWII. In September 2016, Oakes and his daughter Diane Swamp traveled to Plattsburgh to participate in an Honor Flight. They spoke to WAMC's North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley about his experience as a codetalker.

The North Country Honor Flight sponsors World War II and Korean veterans on flights to Washington DC three to five times a year.   Since it was created in 2013, the group has made 22 flights and brought 328 veterans to the nation’s memorials.  But organizers were concerned that some veterans were unable or unwilling to fly.  On the last Honor Flight of the year, the group inaugurated a new virtual reality tour.

Pat Bradley/WAMC

It was a concept that started in Springfield, Ohio in 2005 when 12 World War II veterans were taken to Washington, D.C.  There is now a coordinated nationwide network that flies World War II, Korea and Vietnam from across the country to Washington.  There they visit monuments to those conflicts, remember their service and comrades who did not survive.  In this first part of our weeklong series on World War II veterans, WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley looks at the North Country Honor Flight and the veterans it honors.