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One of the Last Navajo Code Talkers Has Passed Away

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Fox10 reports that one of the last surviving Navajo Code Talkers recently passed away. Sergeant Major Dan Akee died at age 96 on Friday morning. His granddaughter found him in his home in Tuba City, Arizona.

Sergeant Major Dan Akee served as a United States Marine on Iwo Jima and three other Pacific Islands during World War II. CIA.gov notes that during the war, the Marines used those who could speak Navajo to relay messages about attacks and other tactical messages. The complexity of the language which was only spoken on American soil was too tough for others to crack. On top of the use of an unfamiliar language, the Marines took it a step further and had the men use word substitutions as well.

CIA.gov writes, “A skeptical lieutenant decided to test their skills and the code before trusting them to deliver actual combat messages. The Code Talkers successfully translated, transmitted and retranslated a test message in two and a half minutes. Without using the Navajo code, it could take hours for a soldier to complete the same task.” Before the end of the war, around 400 Navajos had been employed in the program.

The Greatest Generations Foundation quoted Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye in a press release, “Dan Akee was not just a Navajo Nation treasure. He was an international treasure and icon whose service will stand as a testament to the freedom of all Americans.”