At one time, there were close to 400 Navajos involved in the Navajo Code Talker program during World War II and as of Monday, there are now only four of the Code Talkers left. 96-year old William Tully Brown, one of the last remaining members passed away on Monday, June 3rd. Brown was born in Black Mountain, Arizona, on October 30th, 1922. He enlisted with the Marine Corps in 1944 and served until he was honorably discharged in 1946.
For his service, Brown received the American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal, World War II Victory Medal and Honorable Service Label Button.
The Code Talkers used their language to develop a code to transmit top-secret and confidential messages throughout World War II. Navajo code was used by the US Marines and Navy between 1942 and 1945. The Navajo Code Talkers participated in every major Marine operation in the Pacific theater. During the battle for Iwo Jima, Navajo Code Talkers in the Marines successfully transmitted more than 800 messages, which proved critical to America’s victory. However, the Navajos’ work wasn’t recognized until after the US government declassified the operation in 1968.
In 1982 President Ronald Reagan gave the Code Talkers a Certificate of Recognition and declared August 14 “Navajo Code Talkers Day” in 1982. President Bill Clinton signed a law to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the original 29 code talkers, and President George W. Bush presented the medals to the four surviving code talkers in 2001.