Skip to comments.Navajo Code Talker dies
Posted on 05/26/2009 7:04:59 AM PDT by restornu
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Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., offers condolences to family
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., today conveyed his condolences to the family of the late Navajo Code Talker and Navajo Tribal Councilman John Brown, Jr., of Crystal, N.M., who died this morning at home. He was 88.
Today, with sadness, we heard of the passing of Mr. John Brown, Jr., one of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers and one of the Navajo Nations great warriors, President Shirley said. For so long, these brave men were the true unsung heroes of World War II, shielding their valiant accomplishments not only from the world but from their own families. The recognition and acknowledgment of their great feats came to them late in life but, for most, not too late. These heroes among us are now a very precious few, and we, as a nation, mourn their loss. We offer our deepest condolences to the family of Mr. John Brown, Jr.
President Shirley ordered flags on the Navajo Nation to be flown at half-staff beginning May 21 in Mr. Browns honor and until after Mr. Browns funeral. Funeral arrangements are pending and will be announced. A community meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Crystal Chapter House.
Mr. Brown was born on Dec. 24, 1921, in Chinle, Ariz., near Canyon De Chelly. His mother was the late Nonabah Begay, who passed away at age 102 two years ago. His father was the late John Brown.
Mr. Brown went to school at Chinle Boarding School, and graduated from the Albuquerque Indian School in 1940.
From there, he remembered Pearl Harbor, said his son Frank Brown. He was playing basketball and heard about the bombing. Sometime after that, he remembered a number of Marine recruiters started talking to the young Navajo boys. He ended up going to Fort Wingate, N.M., to the military installation there.
Mr. Brown said his father recalled being signed up, sworn in and given his physical right then and there.
They sent him immediately to Camp Pendleton for basic training, he said. They werent allowed to go home to say goodbye to their family or write letters.
At some phase in their basic training, they were taken into one big room and a commandant told them they were all there for a special reason, and they were to devise a code in their language, Mr. Brown said. The boys were left there in the room and they didnt know what they heck to do. But they devised the code using names of animals and mammals to describe what would go with the alphabet.
The initial code consisted of translations for 211 English words, which was expanded to 411 words, most frequently used in military conversations. Included in the list were terms for officers, terms for airplanes, terms for months, and an extensive general vocabulary. Also included were Navajo equivalents for the English alphabet so that the code talkers could spell out names or specific places.
From 1942 until 1945, Navajo code talkers participated in numerous battles in the Pacific, including Guadalcanal , Iwo Jima, Peleliu, and Tarawa. They not only worked in communications but also as regular soldiers.
Mr. Brown said his father served in four major battles at Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian and Guadalcanal.
On July 26, 2001, Mr. Brown was one of the original 29 Code Talkers presented with the Congressional Gold Medal by President George W. Bush. That recognition came 56 years following World War II. The code, based on the Navajo language, was de-classified in 1968.
It is, indeed, an honor to be here today before you, representing my fellow distinguished Navajo code talkers, Mr. Brown said at the presentation at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. Only destiny has demanded my presence here, for we must never forget that these such events are made possible only by the ultimate sacrifice of thousands of American men and women who, I am certain, are watching us now. And yes, it is fitting, too, here in the Capitol Rotunda -- such a historic place, where so many heroes have been honored I'm proud that the Navajo code talkers today join the ranks of these great Americans. I'd like especially to thank Senator Bingaman and all of work that he has given to make this occasion possible, to recognize the code talkers.
I enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942, not to become a code talker that came later but to defend the United States of America in the war against the Japanese emperor. My mother was afraid for my safety, so my grandfather told her to take one of my shoes, place an arrowhead in it, take it to the mountain called Two Little Hills, and go there every day to pray that I would remain safe. Maybe she was more successful than she imagined because the Marine Corps soon had the Navajo Marines develop a secret code using our language. My comrade and I volunteered to become Navajo radio operators, or code talkers.
Our precious and sacred Navajo language was bestowed upon us, not a nation, but a holy people. Our language is older than the Constitution of the United States. I'm proud that, at this point in American History, our native language and the code will developed came to the aid of our country, saving American lives and helping the other U.S. armed forces ultimately to defeat the enemies.
After the original 29 code talkers, there are just five of us that live today: Chester Nez, Lloyd Oliver, Allen Dale June, Joe Palmer and myself. We have seen much in our lives. We have experienced war and peace. We know the value of freedom and Democracy that this great nation embodies. But our experience has also shown us how fragile these things can be and how we must stay ever vigilant to protect them, as code talkers, as Marines.
We did our part to protect these values. It is my hope that our young people will carry on this honorable tradition as long as the grass shall grow and water shall flow. Maybe Japan is listening.
Mr. President, we four original code talkers present this day, including the families of my comrades who aren't able to be here with us, are honored to be here to receive this award. Thank you, Mr. Brown said.
In November 2002, more than 200 of the subsequent Code Talkers received the Congressional Silver Medal at Window Rock, Ariz.
In 1971, President Richard Nixon awarded Navajo Code Talkers a special certificate in thanks for their patriotism, resourcefulness, and courage. They were included in the July 4, 1976, Bicentennial Parade in Washington, D.C.
In May of 1982, the U. S. Senate passed a bill declaring August 14 National Code Talkers Day.
Mr. Brown said his father lived a hard life, first training as a welder, then becoming a journeyman and master carpenter and cabinetmaker.
He entered politics in 1962 as a member of the Navajo Tribal Council then called a councilman and served until 1982. Afterward, he served three terms as Crystal Chapter president.
He was always active in politics, his son Mr. Brown said. He was a wonderful speaker.
After politics, he began a second career as a traditional counselor for the Navajo Nation Division of Social Services, driving 130 miles round trip to Chinle each day to work.
After that, he went on a lecture tour speaking about the Navajo Code Talkers around the country and becoming active in the Navajo Code Talkers Association, Mr. Brown said.
Dad was also a traditional practitioner, constantly learning the traditional way of life but at the same time he was always active in the Mormon Church, Mr. Brown said.
John Brown, Jr., is survived by his wife Loncie Polacca Brown and his children Dorothy Whilden, Preston Brown, Everett Brown, Virgil Brown and Frank Brown. His other children were the late Dale Brown and the late Ruth Ann McComb
Amazing speech Mr. Brown. Thank you for your service and patriotism. Rest in peace.
hero of the greatest generation.
Hail to our Heroes.
Rest in peace, Marine.
"Chief of the whites...our codename for you is.....peck-a-wood"
Thank you to an amazing soldier, and his comrades-in-arms.
Rest In Peace.
God Bless and Semper Fi
The Japanese who were assigned the job of breaking the code are still scratching their heads in frustration. RIP Mr. Brown.
I know that Hollywood put that into a movie but the Marine Corp says that it isn't true. By the way it is a good thing that these guys were Marines because the Army's use of code talkers in WWI and in WWII never got any publicity, meaning that in the Army there was no celebrity tied to knowing an Indian language, you were still just a radio man talking code.
Thank you so much for posting this. These men deserved the highest honor for their courage, innovation, and priceless service to our country.
May God bless them forever in His Loving Arms, and prosper and bless their loved ones.
John Brown, Jr. was a Marine, not a soldier.
May you rest in peace and may God bless your family! Semper Fi, Devil Dog!
Never, ever are we tall enough to stand in your shoes.
God bless. Always and forever.
Thank you Mr. Brown and your fellow Code Talkers. May you rest in peace.
Thank you for your valued service Mr Brown. You will not be forgotten. I thought about these men as I watched Midway last night...
Let us not forget the code talkers from the other tribes. We owe them all.
R.I.P. Semper Fi
This man wasn’t a Navaho, he was an American. An American hero.
God rest your soul, Sir.
Semper Fi Marine, job well done
“. By the way it is a good thing that these guys were Marines because the Army’s use of code talkers in WWI and in WWII never got any publicity, meaning that in the Army there was no celebrity tied to knowing an Indian language, you were still just a radio man talking code.”
Several tribes were used as code talkers. A distant relative of mine, Cherokee, served as one.
[snip]More than 12,000 American Indians served in World War Iabout 25 percent of the male American Indian population at that time. During World War II, when the total American Indian population was less than 350,000, an estimated 44,000 Indian men and women served.
American Indian Code Talkers were communications specialists. Their job was to send coded messages about troop movements, enemy positions, and other critical information on the battlefield. Some Code Talkers translated messages into their Native languages and relayed them to another tribal member. Others developed a special code within their languages that they used in combat to send important messages.
Native Languages Used in Code Talking
During World War I and World War II, a variety of American Indian languages were used to send secret military messages. Here are the American Indian Code Talkers languages and the numbers of tribal members who served, if known. There were at least two Code Talkers from each tribe.
World War I: Cherokee, Cheyenne, Choctaw (15), Comanche, Osage, Yankton Sioux
World War II: Assiniboine, Cherokee, Chippewa/Oneida (17), Choctaw, Comanche (17), Hopi (11), Kiowa, Menominee, Muscogee/Creek and Seminole, Navajo (about 420), Pawnee, Sac and Fox/Meskwaki (19), Sioux Lakota and Dakota dialects
“Let us not forget the code talkers from the other tribes. We owe them all.”
See post 24
I use “soldier” as a generic term for ALL those in the military of any service. I realize he was a Marine, and mean no offense by using my generic term. I also am a mean fool who uses the word “man” as meaning “a member of humankind”, as it was primarily defined in 1960’s dictionaries, as well as being politically incorrect by refusing to use the terms “rain forest” or “African0American” as well as hundreds of other personal foibles.
This might interest you devolve.
These were brave men
In a nearby local town yesterday a very nice thing happened. An 88 year old Black man was given about 6 different medals for when he was in The Buffalo Soldiers in Kansas.
They had pictures on the front page of our newspaper and you could see how overwhelmed he was.
That goes way back there
Yes it does
Thanks for the information. I live in Arizona and the only code talkers most people know about are the Navajos. One of the proposed designs for the state quarter only mentioned the Navajos - I complained. (Eventually the quarter ended up with the unlikely juxtaposition of a sajuaro cactus and the Grand Canyon.)
May this hero rest in peace.
Hi how are you.
It is wonder he was recognized for his great deed before he left the earth!
Looks like a humble man.
We owe him and all of the heroes of that great war a debt that can never be repaid. May God bless them all.
Mr. Brown was an impressive and accomplished American patriot who deeply loved and cherished the United States of America -
I would say that he wrote his own speeches and did not require teleprompters
This was an old link that I wrote you about. I haven’t responded to todays ping yet but knew we had been on these before.
There were a few good movies on this -
One was fairly recent - and very accurate -
Windwalkers or windtalkers, something like that? I saw threads about it when I looked for the old one.
Had trouble rebooting my computer!!
The last code-talker movie ended up with one survivor standing at the edge of a canyon cliff with the small son of another that had died fighting off Japanese soldiers
You can always pick up a vintage WebTV as a backup!
I have a memory of us discussing it long ago, but also remember talking about the Civil War movie about the Black Soldiers, Buffalo Soldiers. It was a good one.
I have my laptop but hate typing on it, lol. Flat surface.
My backup keyboard for an “Ultimate TV” from MSFT - has a larger wieless keyboard - easier to use - only 2 batteries
But many of my FAVS keys and other SHORTCUTS keys are not on it
“M” said my keyboard was hard to use after a PC - but my hands are much larger and I have no problems typing on it
“The Eyes and Ears” of the 4th Division...
a proud history..
Wow, a proud history indeed M-cubed! Thank you for your service!
If you have never seen the old Civil War movie about the Buffalo Soldiers, I urge you to look for it. It made an impression on me.
Thanks for writing!