Roy Hawthorne, Navajo Code Talker passes

| April 24, 2018

AZ Central reports that Roy Hawthorne, Sr, a Navajo Code Talker during the war in the Pacific against Japan has passed at the age of 92.

Hawthorne was 17 when he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and became part of a famed group of Native Americans who encoded hundreds of messages in the Navajo language to keep them safe from the Japanese. Hawthorne served in the 1st Marine Division in the Pacific Theatre and was promoted to corporal.

The code was never broken.

“The longer we live, the more we realize the importance of what we did, but we’re still not heroes — not in my mind,” Roy Hawthorne said in 2015.

But Hawthorne’s son, Regan Hawthorne, said Monday his father leaves a proud legacy.

“They went in out of a sense of duty and a spirit of responsibility to their country,” Regan Hawthorne said, adding he didn’t know about his father’s military service until he was in his 20s.

Hawthorne was a “second generation” of code talkers, the last of the original code talkers passed about four years ago.

During the Korean War, Hawthorne enlisted in the US Army.

Category: We Remember

Comments (26)

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  1. 26Limabeans says:

    “As of 2016, there were about a dozen Code Talkers still living. The exact number of Code Talkers is unknown because their work was classified for years after the war ended”

    One would hope these individuals will never be “posed” but I am not confident.

  2. Some Guy says:

    Not to be a dick, but I am a bit suspicious about the awards he’s wearing in the picture. Were Marines also awarded CIBs during WW2? Or was it possible to convert a CAR to a CIB? Because otherwise the two stars don’t make sense to me. I didn’t see his name listed on the three-time CIB recipient list either (
    Again, not trying to rake any muck on a man who’s service was more impressive and important than mine will ever be, just curious about some oddities.

    • QMC says:

      “During the Korean War, Hawthorne enlisted in the US Army.”

      • Some Guy says:

        Right, that would explain one CIB. If he stuck around until Viet Nam, that would explain one star. But to get a CIB with two stars, he would have had to have been in the Army during WW2 as well. There are currently four CIB qualifying periods: WW2, Korea, Viet Nam – Somalia, and Afghanistan – today. In order to be awarded the CIB three times he would have to have gotten one in WW2, Korea, and Viet Nam, unless there is some process for converting a CAR to a CIB that I am unaware of (which in all honesty, might be the likely case here).

        • QMC says:

          Not sure. His CAR is still there on his ribbon rack. But given what we know on the guy, he seems pretty legit to me.

        • Martinjmpr says:

          I suppose there may have been a way to get a CAR “Converted” to a CIB, but it’s also possible that it’s simply a legitimate mistake on his part or on the part of whoever put the decorations together.

          Assuming that Hawthorne left the military some time after his service in Vietnam (he is wearing VN ribbons) it may be that over the intervening 40+ years, he forgot the specifics of the CIB qualifications and assumed that the 2 star CIB was the correct award (since he apparently qualified for it twice, once in Korea and once in Vietnam.)

          People do make mistakes: Ribbons out of correct order or worn upside down, incorrect award worn when it was mistaken for another one, etc. For that matter, not every soldier is well versed in the subtleties of the Army uniform regs and the Vietnam war was a long time ago.

          • Some Guy says:

            Thanks, I was really hoping this wouldn’t turn out to be another SV case and looking for any explanation that made sense. The man certainly has seen his share of combat and doesn’t seem like the dishonorable types that usually make headlines here.

            • Martinjmpr says:

              Most of the morons who make TAH are outed by their own big mouths or on-line boasts.

              Without some evidence that Hawthorne made false claims of military service I, for one, am willing to let a minor uniform mistake slide (and let’s be honest, it’s one that no civilian and probably a big percentage of veterans would even notice.)

              Uniform mistake or not, the man was a hero and I can only wish him safe passage to whatever the Navajo equivalent of Valhalla is.

            • Twist says:

              The fact that his son didn’t know about his father’s service speaks volumes to me. Most posers egos are so large that they would be telling tales of daring do to their children from birth. Heck, I knew that my grandfather served in WWII, but I didn’t know about his valor awards until after he passed and we were going through his stuff. Hell, my grandmother didn’t even know.

    • Layfield says:

      He was also loaned out to the army by the corps during their Phillipines campaign. So I would imagine he rated a CIB while he was still in the corps. So by that I count 1 for ww2 1 for Phillipines and 1 for Korea.

    • desert says:

      He went in the Army after the Marines!

  3. QMC says:

    Fair winds and following seas. God bless you and your family for your service to our country. You were truly a great part of our greatest generation.

  4. AW1Ed says:

    What QMC said. Fair winds and following seas, Marine.

  5. Some Guy says:

    Sorry, please delete, hit the wrong reply button

  6. Roh-Dog says:

    Rest easy, Dear Sir.

  7. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    Rest in peace, Marine…


  8. Ex-PH2 says:

    Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home. – Tecumseh – Shawnee

  9. RGR 4-78 says:

    Rest in Peace.

  10. Sparks says:

    Rest in well deserved peace Sir.

  11. Thunderstixx says:

    The movie Windtalkers was a very good movie and I know it was probably not as accurate as it could have been, but it really gave you a feeling of honor for the men that fought in that horrible war against an absolutely horrific enemy bent of self destruction…
    We all are very lucky those men lived when they did and the bravery they had.
    True warriors of the Navajo Nation. All of them deserve the honor they earned.

    • desert says:

      Our local VFW post a few years past, honored the code talkers, I bought a poster with all their pictures on it and got 2 to sign it, I didn’t know then that 4 more of them were in the back patio taking a break! I missed getting them to sign!! Now they are all gone, very sorry to have missed that opportunity!

  12. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    Here’s some eye-opening info on code talkers from The Smithsonian. Who knew they were in WW I and that it was a WW I Veteran who suggested they be used again in WW II? Who knew that the Navajos weren’t the only tribe that provided the code talkers? As to both questions, not me.

  13. HMC Ret says:

    Anyone who served in the hellish island warfare of the Pacific is a hero to me.

    Interestingly, I went to my first Native American funeral today. The little pamphlet handed out to attendees had a genuine white feather inside. The pamphlet also had the Native American interpretation of certain Bible passages. I found it to be very interesting.

  14. Just An Old Dog says:

    RIP Marine.
    The great thing about he Code talkers is that it was a code within a code.
    I read about a Navaho who was captured either in the Phillipines or Guam who was pulled out and questioned by the Japs once they figured out the Marines were using Navajo.
    He said that he could understand the words, but they made no sense.

  15. Bill M says:

    Rest in Peace Roy.