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One of the Last Code Talkers Departs

One of the Last Code Talkers Departs
June 13
12:00 2018

Navajo Code Talker Samuel Tom Holiday has passed away. He was 94.

Known for his many appearances at veterans events Holiday had been living at the Southern Utah Veterans Home, in Ivins, Utah, since 2017.

The code talker passed away Monday surrounded by family and friends, according to his granddaughter Tya Redhouse.

Holiday, who was born to a medicine woman in Monument Valley, was unsure of his exact birthday, but family members assigned him the date of June 2, 1924, based on the weather and season at the time.

Holiday was 19 when he went through Marine Corps boot camp in 1943. He joined a group of Native Americans who used their native language, which had complex grammar and was unfamiliar to the rest of the world, to develop a communication code for the U.S. military that enemies could not decipher.

Holiday’s code talker partner – Dan Akee, Sr., of Tuba City – died in October at the age of 96.

Navajo officials believe there are about 10 code talkers remaining. The exact number is unclear because the code talker program was highly classified for decades after World War II ended in 1945.

Holiday, who was known for speaking to schoolchildren about the code talkers, was honored by his home community in November when the Samuel T. Holiday Library and Media Center was dedicated at Kayenta Middle School.

“When I entered Kayenta Boarding School as a nine-year-old in the Fall of 1955, I often saw Mr. Holiday around the school compound as an ordinary Navajo,” Page resident Bernice Austin-Begay said. “It was not until the Navajo Code Talkers were declassified that I realized his legacy.”

Austin-Begay is related to Holiday by clan. Holiday was from the Bitter Water Clan, the same clan as Austin-Begay’s late father, the noted medicine man Buck Austin.

Holiday will be buried in Kayenta, on the Navajo reservation, according to Redhouse.


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