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Late code talker remembered as humble, caring person

Late code talker remembered as humble, caring person
Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero Johnny Notah stands at attention and holds the Navajo Nation flag Wednesday at the Santa Fe National Cemetery.

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
Johnny Notah stands at attention and holds the Navajo Nation flag Wednesday at the Santa Fe National Cemetery.

SANTA FE

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero A family portrait depicts the late Navajo Code Talker Bill Toledo Wednesday during a gravesite service at the Santa Fe National Cemetery in Santa Fe, N.M.

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
A family portrait depicts the late Navajo Code Talker Bill Toledo Wednesday during a gravesite service at the Santa Fe National Cemetery in Santa Fe, N.M.

More than 90 men and woman showed up at the Santa Fe National Cemetery to honor a brave Navajo Code Talker.

Bill Henry Toledo, 92, died last Thursday in Grants. During his service as a Code Talker, he participated in Pacific battles in the British Solomon Islands, Guam and Iwo Jima.

“He was a wonderful man,” said his daughter Sharon Webb. “He was a humble, caring person.”

Born in Torreon, he was one of less than 20 surviving Code Talkers who were among the 400 Navajos who used the Navajo language as a code to fool the Japanese during World War II.

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero Navajo Code Talker Alfred K. Newman from Crystal, N.M., becomes emotional during a gravesite service for his fallen comrade Bill Toledo on Wednesday in Santa Fe, N.M.

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
Navajo Code Talker Alfred K. Newman from Crystal, N.M., becomes emotional during a gravesite service for his fallen comrade Bill Toledo on Wednesday in Santa Fe, N.M.

“It wasn’t the bullets or the tanks that won the war, it was our language,” said one man during the brief service at the cemetery.

Toledo enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942 and after going through Code Talker training at Camp Elliot in California, he was shipped out.

In a video produced by Southwest Airlines in 2012 about the Code Talkers, Toledo talked about some of his experiences as a Code Talker, including the day in July 1944 that he became the target of an enemy sniper as he was preparing to send out a message. He wasn’t shot, so it was a “lucky” day.

He also said that one day he was “captured” by another Marine who thought he looked like a Japanese. After that, he said, he was assigned a bodyguard to avoid that kind of situation in the future.


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About The Author

Bill Donovan

Bill Donovan has been writing about the Navajo Nation government since 1971 and for the Navajo Times since 1976. He is currently semi-retired and is living in Torrance, California, and continues to report for the Navajo Times.

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