Sunday, April 03, 2016

Another Navajo code talker dies

Gilbert Horn Sr., among 300 Navajo code talkers the Japanese were never able to de-code during World War II, died Sunday at the age of 92 at Northern Montana Care Center in Havre, Montana. There are about 30 code talkers still alive, but Chester Nez, who died in 2014, was the last of the original 29 code talkers.

Gilbert Horn
Horn’s Indian name is "Shunk Ta Oba Kni," or "Returns With Prisoner Horse."

The code talkers used the Navajo words for birds and animals for each letter. The Japanese, who had broken American codes almost as fast as they were changed, never figured it out.

They devised a two-part code. The first part, a 26-letter phonetic alphabet, used Navajo names for 18 animals or birds, plus the words ice for I, nut for N, quiver for Q, Ute for U, victor for V, cross for X, yucca for Y and zinc for Z. The second part consisted of a 211-word English vocabulary and the Navajo equivalents.

Navajo code talkers served with all six Marine divisions in the Pacific and with Marine Raider and parachute units.

Horn spend decades serving the Fort Belknap Assiniboine Tribe as a judge and council member.

In May 2014, he was named the chief of the Fort Belknap Assiniboine Tribe, the first tribal chief in more than 125 years.

Horn is survived by 10 of his 11 children, 37 grandchildren, 71 great-grandchildren and 18 great-great-grandchildren.

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