Saturday, March 19, 2011

One of the last Code Talkers dies

One of the last. There is only one left now. They are all dying in front of our eyes.

Lloyd Oliver wasn't much of a talker, but it was clear that he was proud to have his native language serve as a key weapon during World War II. As part of an elite group of Marines, he helped develop and implement a code based on the Navajo language that helped win the war.

Years later, his hearing remained impaired because of gun blasts and other explosives during the war. He rarely brought up his time as a Code Talker, but his eyes gleamed when holding a picture of himself in his uniform. He kept a Marine cap and a U.S. flag displayed on his bedroom walls in the home he shared with his wife on the Yavapai Apache Reservation.

Oliver's death Wednesday means that only one of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers survives -- Chester Nez of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Oliver died at a hospice center in a Phoenix suburb where he had been staying for about three weeks, his nephew, Lawrence, said Friday.

Military records put his age as 87 although Oliver's wife said he was 88 when he died. that we are losing our Navajo Code Talkers, and especially one of the original 29 whose stories would be tremendously valuable," said Yvonne Murphy, secretary of the Navajo Code Talkers Foundation.

Hundreds of Navajos followed in the original code talkers' footsteps, sending thousands of messages without error on Japanese troop movements, battlefield tactics and other communications critical to the war's ultimate outcome.

The Code Talkers took part in every assault the Marines conducted in the Pacific.
Navajo President Ben Shelly called Oliver a "national treasure" and ordered flags lowered across the reservation in his honor.

Read more: HERE

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