The late Navajo Code Talker Samuel T. Holiday during a visit to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton on September 28, 2015. Photo: Pfc. Devan Gowans / Marine Expeditionary Force

Navajo Nation mourns loss of Code Talker Samuel Tom Holiday



The Navajo Nation is mourning the loss of another Code Talker.

Samuel Tom Holiday, who was among the hundreds of Navajo citizens who used their language to help win World War II, passed away on Monday, He was 94.

“Our Code Talkers are Navajo heroes and they are national heroes,” President Russell Begaye said in a press release on Tuesday. “As we remember the life of Samuel Holiday, we also honor his selfless service to both the Navajo Nation and to the United States.”

According to Begaye's office, Holiday's health began failing shortly after he turned 94 on June 2. Surrounded by family members, he passed away at the Southern Utah Veterans Home in Ivans, Utah.

"The Navajo Nation and our entire country has lost a very special person who sacrificed more than we’ll ever know for our country and our people,” Speaker LoRenzo Bates of the Navajo Nation Council said in a press release. “We offer our deepest condolences and prayers for him and his family at this time.”

Major Gen. Daniel D. O'Donohue, commanding general, 1st Marine Division, shakes hands with Navajo Code Talker Samuel T. Holiday, during a commemoration ceremony held for the Code Talkers aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, on September 28, 2015. Photo: Pfc. Devan Gowans / Marine Expeditionary Force

Holiday, who was born in Monument Valley, in the Utah portion of the Navajo Nation, received a Purple Heart for his service in the U.S. Marine Corps. He also was awarded a Congressional silver medal in 2001 for transmitting and decoding unbreakable messages during the Pacific theater of World War II.

“The Navajo Nation took pride knowing we had Mr. Holiday representing our communities and we will always remember his words of encouragement and inspiration,” Vice President Jonathan Nez said. “The Nation thanks Code Talker Samuel T. Holiday and his family for their service. We will keep each of you in our prayers.”

Of the 29 original Code Talkers, the ones who developed the unbreakable system, all have passed on. Chester Nez, who died in June 2014, was the last of that group.


More than 300 Navajos followed in their footsteps and their ranks are dwindling as well. Besides Holiday, three have passed on recent months: Roy Hawthorne Sr., 92, in April; Teddy Draper, Sr., 96, in December; and George B. Willie, Sr., 92, also in December,

The eldest living Code Talker is Fleming Begaye, Sr. He is 97.

Funeral arrangements are pending for Samuel T. Holiday.