Navajo Code Talker Roy Hawthorne, who used his native language as an uncrackable code during World War II, died Saturday.
At 92, he was one of the last surviving Code Talkers.
Hawthorne was 17 when he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and became part of a famed group of Native Americans who encoded hundreds of messages in the Navajo language to keep them safe from the Japanese. Hawthorne served in the 1st Marine Division in the Pacific Theatre and was promoted to corporal.
The code was never broken.
“The longer we live, the more we realize the importance of what we did, but we’re still not heroes — not in my mind,” Roy Hawthorne said in 2015.
But Hawthorne’s son, Regan Hawthorne, said Monday his father leaves a proud legacy.
“They went in out of a sense of duty and a spirit of responsibility to their country,” Regan Hawthorne said, adding he didn’t know about his father’s military service until he was in his 20s.
“I grew up not knowing my dad was a Code Talker. He never talked about it, didn’t see the need to talk about it,” he said.
The Code Talkers believed they were just doing their job, he said, and shied away from receiving accolades for their service.
“When we read about the effect the Navajo Code had on shortening the war because of its effectiveness, we think about the guys who did that,” Regan Hawthorne said. “(But) they’re simply humble men who performed what they sensed to be a duty to protect all they cherished.”
He said his father and other Code Talkers returned home from the war and “simply came back to work and went back to making a life.”
As of 2016, there were about a dozen Code Talkers still living. The exact number of Code Talkers is unknown because their work was classified for years after the war ended.
Continue onto AZ Central to read the complete article.