OBITUARY: Allen Dale June 1919-2010

Alan Turing’s accomplishments in deciphering the German enigma and transmission of messages by the US army in Navajo language, which could not be interpreted by the Japanese, are credited with many successes of the Allied forces during World War II. Ed.





Window Rock, Ariz. (AP) – Allen Dale June, one of the 29 original Navajo code talkers who confounded the Japanese during World War II by transmitting messages in their native language, died Wednesday in Prescott, Ariz. He was 91.


Mr. June died of natural causes Wednesday night at a veterans hospital in  Prescott, said his wife, Virginia. His health had been failing since earlier this year when he was hospitalized for a urinary tract infection and kidney failure, his wife said.


With Mr. June´s death, only two of the original code talkers are still living.


They took part in every assault the Marines conducted in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945, sending thousands of messages without error on Japanese troop movements, battlefield tactics and other matters critical to the war´s outcome.


Several hundred Navajos served as code talkers during the war, but a group of 29 that included Mr. June developed the code based on their native language. Their role in the war was not declassified until 1968.


Mr. June attained the rank of sergeant. He and other original code talkers received Congressional Gold Medals in 2001.


Lawrence T. Morgan, the speaker of the tribal council, said Thursday that  the Navajo Nation had lost a great warrior. “His unique service to his country brought positive attention to the Navajo Nation,” Mr. Morgan said in a statement.


Mr. June first tried to sign up for the Marines in his hometown of Kaibeto on the Navajo Nation, but a recruiter told him he was too young.


He then traveled to the reservation town of Chinle to enlist – because he figured people there wouldn’t recognize him – and he could lie about his  age and forge his father’s  signature, Virginia June said.


Even after the code was declassified in 1968, Mr. June said little about his role as a Code Talker because he would have viewed it as bragging, his wife said. Anyone who saw him in the past several years might have been able to guess he was a Code Talker, as he wore a red Navajo Code Talker cap with his name on it wherever he went and a black leather jacket with “Marines” written across the back. He completed his look with a bolo tie that had a large turquoise stone.


Virginia June routinely handed out cards bearing Allen June’s picture and rank in the Marines that he had autographed.


Besides his wife, Allen June is survived by 10 children.


(NY Times September 11, 2010) 

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