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WWII vet and one of the few remaining Navajo Code Talkers dies at 94

Samuel Tom Holiday (U.S. Marines)
June 18, 2018

Samuel Tom Holiday, a World War II veteran and Navajo Code Talker, died on Monday at the age of 94.

He was one of the longest surviving Navajo Code Talkers.

Holiday joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943 and served in World War II until 1945.

During that time, he became a member of a special unit that used the Navajo language to communicate secret messages.

The Navajo Code Talkers played a pivotal role in securing American victories in Iwo Jima, Saipan and other major battlers in the Pacific.

Originally a group of just 29 individuals, the Navajo Code Talkers eventually included more than 400 troops.

The last of the original 29 members died in 2014, and Navajo leaders believe there are less than 10 code talkers still alive today,, CNN reported.

The U.S. military first used Choctaw, another Native American language, for secret codes during WWI.

However, Germany and Japan ultimately cracked the code and subsequently learned a number of other Native American languages, according to the CIA.

The U.S. later decided to use the Navajo language due to its unique syntax and linguistics.

The language is also not written, making it even more secure.

Following the war, Holiday returned to the Navajo Reservation and would receive a a Certificate of Recognition from President Ronald Reagan in 1982. Aug. 14 would also be declared “Navajo Code Talkers Day.”

Later on, Holiday also wrote a book about his experiences and became a fixture in his home community.

An active veteran, Holiday spoke to children and taught others about the role of Navajo Code Talkers during the war.

Holiday’s final resting place will be next to his wife at the Navajo Reservation in Kayenta, Arizona.