National

Navajo Nation mourns passing of Code Talker George Paul James






The Navajo Code Talker Memorial in Window Rock, Arizona. Photo by Woody Hibbard

The Navajo Nation is laying another Code Talker to rest.

George Paul James, whose use of the Navajo language helped the United States win World War II, died on Wednesday in New Mexico. He was 92.

"With the passing of Navajo Code Talker George Paul James, we are witnessing the tragic loss of a historical icon to the Navajo people and the citizens of the United States," President Russell Begaye said in a press release.

"James was selfless in his service to our country and to the Navajo Nation. He defended our great land as a Code Talker by using the Navajo language to encode military messages and ultimately contributed to protecting our freedom," Begaye continued. "For this, we are forever grateful."

James was only 17 when he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, according to the tribe. He saw action during the Battle of Iwo Jima, one of the fiercest and bloodiest phases of the war.

"He has served this country bravely and has been a rock for our family since our grandma passed," granddaughter Penny Danzuka wrote on GoFundMe. "He was a very active and traditional man all his life. Up until this year he was herding sheep, riding horses, living in the mountains living off the animals and land."

Funeral services are set to take place this Saturday in Lukachukai, Arizona, the tribe said. James will be buried in a family plot in Tsaile.