Honoring a family – 4 generations of service

MANDAREE World War I code talker Paul Good Iron was among 46 Lakota code talkers honored when the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe held a ceremony to honor them last month.

Nathan Paul Good Iron, who goes by Paul, said his grandfather enlisted in the military when American Indians were not classified as citizens. Good Iron, of Mandaree, said his grandfather died when he was 27 years old.

Congressional Gold Medals were awarded to a number of American Indian tribes in recognition of the dedication and valor of tribal members who served as code talkers in the U.S. military during World War I and World War II. The medals were awarded during a ceremony held in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Nov. 20, 2013.

Code talkers refers to American Indians who used their tribal languages to secretly communicate during wartime.

Good Iron has given for display a tribute made of metal with four generations of Good Iron veterans who either enlisted or volunteered to serve in the U.S. military to the Minot State University Native American Cultural Center and Fort Berthold Community College in New Town. Nathan Goodiron, a fourth generation of Good Iron veterans, was an alumnus of both MSU and the Fort Berthold college.

A metal tribute also was given for display to the Standing Rock Tourism Office at Fort Yates.

The four generations of Good Irons included on the approximately 12-inch by 24-inch tribute made of metal are:

Paul Good Iron, of the Standing Rock Reservation, who served in the Army during World War I.

His son, Gilbert N. Good Iron, also of Standing Rock, who served in the Army during World War II in North Africa and in Italy where he was wounded. He died in November 1977.

His son, Nathan Paul Good Iron, of Mandaree on the Fort Berthold Reservation, a Vietnam veteran who served in the Navy.

His son, Nathan J. Goodiron, of Mandaree, served in the North Dakota National Guard and was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2006.

“We are all classified as ‘service-connected disabled’ by our government, said Nathan Paul Good Iron. He said other family members also have served in the military.

He noted that there are many veterans on Fort Berthold and Standing Rock reservations and other reservations. He said the metal tribute that he designed and was completed for him by Dakota Awards in Bismarck, is one way people can honor veterans in their families.

Good Iron said he hopes families of all veterans can find ways to honor their veterans so future generations will know about the sacrifices that veterans have made so people of this country have the freedoms we have today.