Last Original Navajo Code Talker dies in Arizona

Original WWII Code Talkers

Allen Dale June, a Navajo code talker who received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2001, for his role as one of the 29 original code talkers died this week of renal failure. The Code Talkers took part in every Marine assault conducted in the Pacific from 1942-1945. Thousands of messages were sent without error on Japanese troop movements, battlefield tactics and other communication critical to the war’s ultimate outcome.

An original group of 29, which included June developed the code based on their Navajo language, and their role was not declassified until 1968. June attained the rank of sergeant while in the Marines. Now that he has died, there are only 2 others of the original 29 left. The Tribal Council Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan said in a statement, “His unique service to his country brought positive attention to the Navajo Nation. He will be missed.”

Allen Dale June, one of the last 3 of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers dies at age 91
Allen Dale June, one of the last 3 of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers dies at age 91

Clarence Wolf Guts

The Last Oglala Lakota Code Talker Dies

Another code talker, Clarence Wolf Guts, died this past Wednesday and he was the last surviving Oglala Lakota code talker from WWII. He helped defeat the Axis forces by transmitting strategic military messages in his native language which the Japanese or the Germans couldn’t decode. His son said when 9/11 happened he asked his son to call the U. S. Defense Department to see if the country needed his code talking abilities to find Osama Bin Laden. He was 70 at the time so his son didn’t make the call, but the request personified his father’s love of the country.

Code Talkers

Photo Courtesy of Military History site
Photo Courtesy of Military History site

Beginning of Codes for Marines

While there were 450 Navajo code talkers, 15 other tribes used their languages to aid the Allied efforts in World War II. Wolf Guts was one of 11 Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Native American code talkers from South Dakota.

When he was in basic training at age 18, a general asked him if he could speak Sioux. He explained the 3 languages he knew and Wolf Guts helped develop a phonetic alphabet based on Lakota that was later used to develop a Lakota code. He joined 3 Sioux code talkers in the Pacific campaign. His responsibility was to send coded messages from the General to his chief of staff.

The code talkers served in all six Marine divisions, Marine Raider battalions and Marine parachute units, transmitting messages by telephone and radio in their native language a code that the Japanese never broke.

Using Navajo Code

Philip Johnston, the son of a missionary to the Navajos and one of the few non-Navajos who spoke their language fluently.  He was the one who came up with the idea of using the Navajo for secure communications.  Phillip Johnson was also a WWI vet and knew the importance of secure communication.  Navajo is an unwritten language and its syntax and tonal qualities, plus its dialects made it a perfect form of communication.

Major Howard Conner stated that the 6 Navajo code talkers sent and received over 800 perfect messages, or they never would have been able to take Iwo Jima.  In 1942, there were about 50,000 Navajo tribe members. As of 1945, about 540 Navajos served as Marines. From 375 to 420 of those trained as code talkers; the rest served in other capacities.

Summary

While their value was long recognized, they were finally honored for their contributions to defense on September 17, 1992, at the Pentagon in Washington D. C. Thirty-five code talkers, all veterans of the U.S. Marine Corps, attended the dedication of the Navajo code talker exhibit. The exhibit included photographs, equipment and the original code, along with an explanation of how the Navajo code worked. It is now a regular exhibit in the Pentagon tour.

It is the sacrifice of great men like these code talkers that have given us freedom for the past 200+ years, and it would serve us well to never forget that.


Navajo Code Talkers

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Comments 41 comments

Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV

Pamela,

Each of these American heroes gave their all in defence of our liberty, and they wiil be missed!!!!!!!!!!!!

Good Hub!!!!!!!!!!!!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Tom, That's the same thing I thought. Thanks for your comment.


Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 6 years ago from Georgia, USA

Pam - Know Veterans Know Freedom, No Veterans No Freedom! God Bless them all, you for writing this and God Bless America


Wendy Krick profile image

Wendy Krick 6 years ago from Maryland

Thanks for sharing this hero with us.


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

Fascinating information, Pamela. I believe there was a movie, too a few years back about the code talkers.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Hmrjmr, I love that saying and I agree, God Bless our Vets and the USA, especially on this day of sad memories.

Wendy, Thank you for your commnet.

drbj, The movie is called The Windtalkers and its about the invasion of Saipan according to my husband who knows such things. Thanks for your comment.


eovery profile image

eovery 6 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

These guys were neat. This is all cool, what they did.

Keep on hubbing!


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

I really enjoyed reading and viewing this article. Thanks for this update story on the WWII code talkers.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Eovery, I agree. Thanks for your comment.

Coolmon, I'm glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for your comment.


DiamondRN profile image

DiamondRN 6 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

The Code-Talkers undeniable contribution to Allied success in WW II should be worn as a badge of honor and courage by all Native Americans.


maven101 profile image

maven101 6 years ago from Northern Arizona

Pamela...Thank you for this moving tribute to these great Americans...I was fortunate to meet several of these men in 1969 during the Marine Corps birthday Ball being held in Gallup, New Mexico...They were still Gung Ho and wanted to offer their services to the Corps in Viet Nam...

We must never forget their patriotism, honor, and bravery that stands in tribute to their Native American heritage...Larry


susanlang profile image

susanlang 6 years ago

Awesome story of the second war's code - talkers! Those native american hero's have saved many lives!


dashingclaire profile image

dashingclaire 6 years ago from United States

So sorry to hear of the deaths, my the RIP. What awesome military veterans that they shared their language for America.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

You have written a perfect tribute to these truly wonderful people, in every way. Thank you for an interesting hub. I have learned a lot from it.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND

Fascinating - I saw a movie on this very topic and I cannot think of the name - I'll have to do some research. I love hearing stories of Native Americans in a positive light esp. because there is so much prejudice against them (at least here in the Northern Plains) and because you hear so many negative things about them esp. living on their reservations. So thanks for this!


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND

OK - I just asked my husband and confirmed it on Amazon the movie is called Windtalkers starring Nicholas Cage and Christian Slater.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Diamond, I agree and think they do. Thanks for your comment.

Larry, It's great that you got to meet them as everything I have read talks about their bravery and patriotism. Thanks for the comment.

Susalang, That's true. We might not have beat the Japanese without them. Thanks for your comment.

Dashingclair, You are so right and I appreciate your comment.

Hello, I'm glad you appreciated the hub and thanks for the comments.

Cari, I don't hear the negative where I live but these men sacrificed mush for our country and they are true patriots. Thanks for your comments and the movie name for others.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago

Wow, Pam, very interesting hub. Their contribution and sacrifices were astounding. Sad to see the passing of one this past week. Let history always speak for them. Rated awesome.


viking305 profile image

viking305 6 years ago from Ireland

I must admit that this is the first time I had heard of WWII Code Tallkers. What a fasinating piece of American history. Thank you for a very intersting hub.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Anginwu, It is sad to see this pass away. Thanks for your comments.

Viking, I'm glad you found the hub informative. Thanks for your comment.


G L Strout profile image

G L Strout 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

I am truly glad thes heros got recognition before they were all gone. Their contributins save many lives.


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

Pamela, I have always held these men in great reverence from the time I first heard the camp fire story of their deeds. What a sacrifice for a country that murdered and burned many out of their homes. It proves tolerance and forgiveness are not so common virtues but that they do exist, as a Marine I thank you for this article, 50


saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 6 years ago

Pamela thank you for this excellent tribute to these Code Talkers, they served your country without fail. They loved their country and died for it. A beautiful movie Wind Talkers showed their reverence for their abilities and service. Wonderful hub, may they all RIP and know that they are missed. Peace and hugs


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

G L Strout, I am glad that got the recognition they deserved also. Thanks so much for your comments.

50 Caliber, What a very nice comment and I thank you. It is impressive that they were so willing to serve and were true patriots until the end. They surely did have forgiveness and tolerance which we don't see as much any more. God Bless you 50 Cal.

Saddlerider, Thanks you so much for such a wonderful comment as they did serve us well, and I saw that movie when it first came out. Peace and Hugs to you also.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

I just love learning more about the Codetalkers - what an amazing contribution they made. Thanks for the wonderful tribute!


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Great tribute to those whose sacrifice and dedication to duty allowed us to continue with our lives and the freedoms which we often take for granted. Loved the movie too. It seems a shame that it took so long to honor them after their amazing service to our country.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Audry, I am glad you enjoyed the article They are fascinating with their talent and dedication. Thanks for your comments.

PegCole, I'm also so glad they finally gave them the Congressional Gold Medals because they certainly deserved them. Thanks so much for your comment.


sunforged profile image

sunforged 6 years ago from Sunforged.com

Im happy to hear they received Congressional Medals of Honor before they passed, I was not aware of this. Great update on the Codetalkers.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Yes, they certainly did deserve the medals. Thanks for your comments.


FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 6 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

I had opportunity to hear one of the CodeTalkers speak a few years back (with a family member helping), and was impressed by both their humilty with respect to what they had accomplished, and with their sense of duty to country. It was great to know they had finally received their Congressional Gold Medals.

Good Hub, with thanks and respect offered to all those as yet unrecognized who have continued to protect our communications through the decades and crises that followed.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

FitnezzJim, Thank you for a wonderful comment and I feel the same way. It would have been a real honor to meet one of these dedicated men.


LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba

I had never heard of code talkers until I saw the film about them, a great contribution that they made to the war effort.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

LeanMan, They sure did and that's why I wanted to write this hub. Thanks for your comments.


Support Med. profile image

Support Med. 5 years ago from Michigan

As always, it takes the good ones longer to be recognized. Bless them all for their great contribution. Voted/rated.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

Support Med, I am thankful they did finally get the recognition they so deserved. Thanks for your comments.


lobonorth profile image

lobonorth 5 years ago

Great story and it is wonderful that the men got the recognition they deserved. Thanks.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

lobonorth, I agree. They waiting a long time for that recognition but it was well deserved. thank you for your comments.


aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 4 years ago from American Southwest

I have heard lots about the Navajo Code Talkers; very interesting to hear about a Lakota Code Talker!

I found the Windtalkers movie disappointing; I think your article was more interesting than it was! I hope someone soon will do a better movie that shows more of what these men did.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

aethelthyrth. A new movie would be nice, as the code talkers played a huge role in winning the war. Thank you so much for your comments.


Historicus profile image

Historicus 4 years ago from Cashtown, PA

A wonderful story of patriotic Native Americans defending their country. I wonder how many American and Allied lives they saved with their linguistic talents.

The big irony is that they defended a nation that conquered their people. True American Patriots.

Excellent hub!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Historicus, I don't think anyone could know how many lives they saved. They were True Patriots, particularly considering the way we treated them. Thank you so much for your comments.

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