Thompson, Frank: WWII Code Talker passes at age 87

Gallup, New Mexico (AP) 6-08

Frank Tsosie Thompson, a member of a U.S. Marine unit that used a coded version of the Navajo language in World War II to keep the Japanese from listening in, has passed away. He was 87.

His son Floyd Thompson, of Gallup, said he died of natural causes in Breadsprings.

In 2001, Thompson was among more than 300 surviving code talkers who were awarded Congressional Silver Medals.

The code talkers transmitted messages in a coded version of their native language – codes that were never cracked by the enemy. The talkers’ existence was a military secret for more than two decades after the war ended.

Thompson, who enlisted the same day he graduated from high school, served in the Marine Corps from 1942 until Sept. 17, 1945. He served in the Pacific island battles for Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan and Tinian.

After the war, Thompson became a carpenter and worked in maintenance for the Navajo tribe for 371/2 years at Fort Defiance. He retired in 1991.

Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. has ordered flags on the reservation to half-staff from June 4 to June 7 in Thompson’s honor.

Shirley’s proclamation said Thompson “served the United States of America and the Navajo Nation with courage, honor and distinction.”