Home News WW II Navajo Talker known for singing Marines’ hymn in Navajo dies

WW II Navajo Talker known for singing Marines’ hymn in Navajo dies

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A member of the Navajo code talkers, who provided unbreakable code on the battlefield in World War II, has died at age 95.

Joe Hosteen Kellwood, died Monday at the Phoenix Veterans Hospital and his death was confirmed by the Navajo Nation Council.

Kellwood fought in the Pacific in the First Marine Division at Cape Gloucester, Peleliu and Okinawa. Though disciplined as a schoolboy for speaking Navajo, his skills made him an irreplaceable specialist during World War II.

He was awarded the Congressional Silver Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Action Ribbon, Naval Unit Commendation, Good Conduct, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and WWII Victory Medal.

Kellwood joined the Marines after reading about the Battle of Guadalcanal, according to the Veterans History Project. He enlisted in 1942, not knowing the Navajo code talkers existed, because it was a secret program.

The Marines Corp tweeted a video of Kellwood singing the Marines’ hymn in Navajo with the caption, “Honor the fallen. Yesterday, one of the last remaining Navajo code talkers passed away at 95 years old.”

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