Samuel Tom Holiday, one of the last surviving World War II Navajo code talkers, passed away in Utah on Monday.
One of the brave Native American soldiers who helped win the second world war with an uncrackable code has passed away surrounded by family from across the country, who raised money to be beside him at the end. His loss is another step away from the existence of the “greatest generation” in all but memory. His code talker partner, Dan Akee, died at 96 in October 2016.
Holiday was one of fewer than ten surviving code talkers, according to Navajo leadership. That number is uncertain, however, because of the clandestine nature of the program; their actual numbers remained classified for decades after the war ended. Also uncertain is Holiday’s precise age. He was born to a medicine woman in Monument Valley and his family has estimated his birthday was June 2, 1924.
The father of eight — seven daughters and one son — was given a Certificate of Recognition by President Ronald Reagan. He was also awarded a Congressional Silver Medal and a Purple Heart for an encounter with an exploding mortar that left his ears damaged.
Holiday will be buried on the Navajo reservation in Kayenta, Arizona, alongside his wife Lupita, according to granddaughter Tya Redhouse.