GRANTS, N.M. - Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez said they were saddened to learn about the passing of Navajo Nation Code Talker Bill Henry Toledo May 5 in Grants, New Mexico.
"I remember Code Talker Toledo as being a strong and kind man. He was a hero to our Nation and the United States at large, as is every other Code Talker and serviceman," Begaye said. "He is part of a brave group of men who defended the freedom of our country and successfully saved our Nation using the Navajo language. We are saddened to hear he has left us."
Bill Henry Toledo was born in Torreon, New Mexico, March 29, 1924. He was Ta'neeszahnii born for Hashtł'ishnii. His maternal grandfathers are Naakaii Dine and his paternal grandfathers are Kin Yaa'aanii.
Toledo enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1942 and following boot camp in San Diego, he attended Navajo Code Talker School at Camp Elliot, California. Upon completion he was assigned to the 3rd Marine Division and shipped from Camp Pendleton to New Zealand and then to the Guadalcanal.
He was involved in three combat landings using the Code: Bougainville in the British Solomon Islands in November 1943; Guam in the Marianas Islands in July 1944; and Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands in 1945.
In October 1945 he was discharged from active duty. Following service in the Marine Corps, he completed his education and worked for mining companies until retirement in 1985.
He traveled the United States and internationally, making presentations on the use of the Navajo code in World War II.
"Our code talkers are national treasures who embodied true courage, integrity and bravery. Code Talker Toledo used his traditional culture and intelligence on many levels to ultimately serve, defend and save our country," Nez said.
The Office of the President and Vice President extend their condolences and prayers to the family of Code Talker Bill Henry Toledo on behalf of the Navajo Nation.
Toledo's funeral took place May 10.