Edmond A. Harjo
1917 – 2014
Edmond A. Harjo
SEMINOLE, OKLAHOMA — Funeral services were held for Edmond Harjo last Friday, April 4, 2014, in Seminole, Oklahoma. Mr. Harjo was a Seminole Nation code talker during World War II and is reportedly the last surviving code talker from the Seminole Nation. He was 96.
A resident of Maud, Oklahoma, Mr. Harjo died of a heart attack on Monday, March 31, 2014 in Ada, Oklahoma. He was born on November 24, 1917 in Maud, Oklahoma to Yanna (Grant) and Tony Harjo.
During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army in the Battery “A” 195th Field Artillery Battalion. He became a code talker when a superior officer overheard him and another American Indian speaking in their Creek dialect. The officer asked the two to use their language to communicate so that the enemy could not understand. Other Native languages were used during World War II as well.
This past November, 33 American Indian tribes were honored in Washington, DC for the contributions as code talkers and presented with Congressional Gold Medals. Mr. Harjo was in attendance.
Congressman Tom Cole (R – Oklahoma 4th District), a tribal citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, issued the following statement regarding Mr. Harjo’s death:
“I was deeply grieved to hear about the loss of a true military hero and inspirational figure to generations of Native Americans,” said Cole. “During the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony last year that honored code talkers from 33 tribes, I had the opportunity to meet Edmond Harjo and participate in the ceremony that recognized his bravery during World War II. Because he took great pride in his unique heritage, Harjo and other Native American soldiers were able to encrypt and transfer wartime messages and ultimately prevent highly-sensitive information from being intercepted by the enemy. His service and bravery will surely live on.”
Mr. Harjo received other awards that include a Good Conduct Medal and an EAME Service Ribbon with a Silver Service Star.
After the war, Mr. Harjo became a school teacher and a concert pianist. He was a lifelong bachelor. He is survived by nephews and nieces, among other family members and a host of friends.