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Navajo code talker Tom Jones Jr. dies at 89

Published May 14, 2014 9:12 am

World War II • Tribal flags to fly at half-staff.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Gallup, N.M. • Tom Jones Jr., 89, a Navajo Code Talker from Hogback, N.M., died Monday at San Juan Regional Medical Center of pneumonia and other medial conditions, according to a press release from the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President.

He was part of a group of soldiers who used the Navajo language to communicate military messages during the Pacific battles of World War II.

Jones was inducted into the U.S. Marine Corps on Nov. 26, 1943, and was honorably discharged on Dec. 30, 1945.

He served as a messenger for the 3rd Division, Unit 297 Navajo Code Talkers 767 and the Navajo Code Talkers 642 platoons based at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

After his service, he worked for Navajo Mine in Fruitland.

Among the awards Jones received for his military service is the Congressional Silver Medal, which is displayed in his home in Tse Daa Kaan Chapter.

"Our father was a private, humble, simple, caring and giving father, grandfather, brother, friend and comrade. His heart was caring, his mind was strict, his life was blessed and his soul was graceful," said Carmelita Nelson, Jones' daughter, in the press release.

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly signed a proclamation to have tribal flags flown at half-staff from Wednesday through Saturday in honor of Jones.

"The Navajo Nation has lost another hero and role model to our people. We are saddened by the loss of Tom Jones Jr. and the nation sends our condolences and prayers to his family," Shelly said in the press release.

Jones is survived by three children, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Diné Christian Center in Shiprock.