One of the last WWII Navajo code talk­ers

The Dallas Morning News - - Obituaries - In­g­ton Daily Times Farm-

WIN­DOW ROCK, Ariz. — A Navajo code talker who used his na­tive lan­guage to out­smart the Ja­panese in World War II has died in New Mex­ico, Navajo Na­tion of­fi­cials said.

David Pat­ter­son Sr. died Sun­day in Rio Ran­cho at age 94 of pneu­mo­nia and com­pli­ca­tions from sub­du­ral hematoma. Few Navajo code talk­ers are still alive.

Pat­ter­son and hun­dreds of other Nava­jos trained in ra­dio com­mu­ni­ca­tions were pro­hib­ited from talk­ing about their work un­til it was de­clas­si­fied in 1968.

Although Pat­ter­son couldn’t say much, one of his sons said he was proud of be­ing a code talker.

“He at­tended as many code talker events as he could,” Pat Pat­ter­son said. “It was only when his health started to de­cline that he didn’t at­tend as many.”

Pat­ter­son served in the Ma- rine Corps from 1943 to 1945. He and other Nava­jos fol­lowed in the foot­steps of the orig­i­nal 29 who de­vel­oped the code and re­ceived the Con­gres­sional Sil­ver Medal in 2001. Dur­ing the war, they ra­dioed mes­sages us­ing Navajo words for red soil, war chief, braided hair and hum­ming­bird, for ex­am­ple.

Af­ter his mil­i­tary ser­vice, Pat­ter­son be­came a so­cial worker with the tribe’s Di­vi­sion of So­cial Ser­vices un­til re­tir­ing in 1987. Pat Pat­ter­son told the

that his fa­ther moved to Rio Ran­cho in 2012 to live with his youngest son. He said his fa­ther was a de­voted Catholic who loved bingo, baseball and bowl­ing.

Pat­ter­son raised his fam­ily in Ok­la­homa, Cal­i­for­nia and Shiprock, N.M. He is sur­vived by six chil­dren.

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