ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) presented a Congressional Silver Medal in a historic ceremony to the family of the late Navajo Code Talker Adolph Nagurski, who earned the medal for his service but never received it.
"One of my most important responsibilities as a senator is to help New Mexico's veterans receive the recognition and care they earned through their service," said Senator Heinrich. "I am proud to present a Congressional Silver Medal to Navajo Code Talker Adolph Nagurski's family in honor of his incredible heroism and service to our nation. This recognition is long overdue for the sacrifices Adolph Nagurski made to protect his nation, his homeland and secure the freedom we enjoy today."
In 2000, medals were authorized by Congress and produced by the U.S. Mint to recognize the Navajo Code Talker's immense contribution to winning the war against Japan. Unfortunately, due to health issues, Adolph Nagurski couldn't attend the medal ceremony for Code Talkers at Window Rock in 2001 and for over 14 years, Adolph Nagurski's family has attempted to get his Congressional Medal. Senator Heinrich worked to authorize the approval of releasing the prestigious medal and posthumously presented it to Mr.Nagurski's family at the New Mexico Veterans' Memorial.
Mr. Nagurski's son, Benjamin, shared the story of his father's service to the nation. Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, Navajo Nation Veterans Administration Director, retired Lt. Colonel Tracey Clyde, Navajo Nation Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates and Navajo Code Talker Thomas H. Begay, who knew and worked with Mr. Nagurski, shared remarks as well.
Senator Heinrich, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is committed to ensuring our nation keeps its promises to our men and women in uniform and their families. He has led the effort to reduce the disability claims backlog, collaborating with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to work with Community-Based Outpatient Clinics across New Mexico to ensure their needs continue to be met. Senator Heinrich also cosponsored legislation that was signed into law last year to modernize and strengthen veterans' education benefits and enhance the post-9/11 G.I. Bill.