Navajo Nation Mourns Code Talker Roy Hawthorne

Navajo Naton President Russell Begaye with Navajo Code Talker Roy Hawthorne.

Published April 24, 2018

WINDOW ROCK —  Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez offer their condolences to the family of Navajo Code Talker Roy Hawthorne, who passed away on Saturday, April 21. Code Talker Hawthorne was 92.

“Code Talker Hawthorne is highly respected,” President Begaye said. “He was not only a hero and a warrior, but also as a true spokesman who worked on behalf of the welfare of the Navajo Code Talkers consistently. It is a privilege to have known him and I extend my condolences to his family, his fellow Navajo Code Talkers and his comrades.”

Navajo Code Talker Roy Hawthorne

Hawthorne was the vice president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association. During World War II, he served with the 1st Marine Division in the Pacific Theatre. He later served in the Korean War and was promoted to corporal.

“We acknowledge Navajo Code Talker Hawthorne’s service to our nation and to the United States of America, as well as the sacrifices of his family,” Vice President Nez said. “One of the projects he worked hard for was to create a museum for the Navajo Code Talkers – we will continue working on this in his honor and in honor of all Navajo Code Talkers.”

In September 2015, Hawthorne and Code Talker Samuel Holiday returned to Camp Pendleton where the Navajo Nation Council honored them along with Major General Daniel J. O’Donohue, who serves as the Commanding General of the 1stMarine Division, for their honorable service in World War II. The event marked the first time the two had returned to Camp Pendleton since enlisting with the Marine Corps as young men.

During the event at Camp Pendleton, Hawthorne was presented an honorary coin from the Marine Corps. He spoke during the event and recalled the challenges that he and his fellow Code Talkers dealt with when leaving their homelands and in battle.

“The longer we live, the more we realize the importance of what we did, but we’re still not heroes – not in my mind,” said Hawthorne in 2015.

Hawthorne was 17 when he enlisted in the Marine Corps. After attending Camp Pendleton for several months for training, he was first shipped to Guadalcanal, which was then secured by the Americans. Later, he fought in the Battle of Okinawa.

“When I was inducted into the Marine Corps and I raised my hand and swore allegiance to the United States of America, and I became a Marine, that’s when I became somebody. That’s when the whole world realized it wasn’t true that the Native Americans were non-achievers. That they were achievers,” Hawthorne said in a videotaped interview. “That’s what makes me very proud of the fact that we were chosen to do this specific task. And so we did.”

Funeral services for Hawthorne will be held on April 27 at 10:00 a.m. at Tsé Si aní Baptist Church in Lupton.

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