Code Talker Billy Crosby dies at 85 Dec 11, 2011 CHINLE, Ariz. (AP) - Billy Crosby, one of hundreds of Navajo Code Talkers who used their native language to confound the Japanese and help win World War II, has died at the age of 85. Crosby was laid to rest Tuesday at the Chinle Community Center, near his hometown of Many Farms where he taught Head Start children about the Navajo language and culture after he retired. Crosby, who died last week, also volunteered as a foster grandparent. "Mr. Crosby never stopped giving back to his community," said Navajo President Ben Shelly. "He was a model for his people well beyond his service to his country and people." Crosby was one of about 420 Navajos trained to transmit messages in a code based on the then-unwritten Navajo language. The Code Talkers took part in every assault the Marines conducted in the Pacific, sending thousands of messages without error on Japanese troop movements, battlefield tactics and other communications critical to the war's ultimate outcome. The Navajo Code Talkers Association estimates that fewer than 70 of the 420 Code Talkers are still living. Crosby was the sixth Code Talker to die so far this year, according to Shelly's office. Another group of 29 Code Talkers developed the code. Only one member of that group, Chester Nez of Albuquerque, N.M., is alive. He and his colleagues or their families each received a Congressional Gold Medal for their service, while those who followed in their footsteps received silver medals. Crosby was born on July 15, 1926, and attended Saint Michael Indian School in St. Michaels. He joined the Marines at 16 years old in July 1945, telling a recruiter he was a year older. He later worked on the railroad in Nevada, as a ranch hand in Colorado and as a custodian at two reservation boarding schools. He upheld Navajo tradition and culture, taking part in ceremonies, herding sheep and playing a popular card game called Navajo 10 that is similar to gin. He and his wife, Christine, had 10 children. Shelly has ordered flags lowered across the Navajo Nation through Friday in Crosby's honor. Navajo Code Talker Billy Crosby Laid to Rest CHINLE, ARIZONA - Flags are flying at half-staff across the Navajo Nation in honor of Navajo Code Talker Billy Crosby, who laid to rest in Chinle yesterday. Crosby, 85, passed away last Wednesday, December 21. “The Navajo Nation has lost another hero. Our prayers and condolences, and support go out to the Crosby family,” commented Navajo President Ben Shelly. Crosby was born near Many Farms on July 15, 1926. He went to school at Saint Michael Indian School in St. Michaels, Arizona. He completed a five-year course of study by the time he was 16 years old. Though he told the US Marines Corps he was 17 years old, Crosby was 16 years old when he was drafted. He served in World War II in the Pacific Theater as a code talker message center man from July 9, 1945 to August 10, 1946. He was part of battles and expeditions in Japan during his enlistment. He was honorably discharged as a Corporal from the 1st Separation Company, Marine Corps Battalion, in San Diego, California on January 14, 1946. On April 27, 1946, he was awarded the Good Conduct Medal and in 2002 he received a Silver Medallion from President George W. Bush. After his distinguished military service, Crosby married Christine Thompson. The couple had ten children. One son, Marshall Crosby preceded him in death. He is survived by his wife of 63 years Christine and children, Helen Tsinnajinnie, Evelyn Crosby, Charlene Iyua, Michael Crosby, Jerry Crosby, Geraldine Crosby, Evalina Crosby, Earlene Begay and Lisa Iuya. Additionally, he is survived by 33 grandchildren, 43 great-grandchildren, and one great great-grandchild. Flags will fly at half-staff through December 30. It's no secret that WWII Code Talkers are heroes Jan 6, 2012 The U.S. lost another living link to a critical part of our history when services were held for a former World War II Navajo Code Talker, Billy Crosby, Dec. 27 in Chinle. Six former Code Talkers have died this year, and only a few dozen of the original 420 Code Talkers are still living. Crosby and his fellow Navajos used their then-unwritten native language to transmit codes regarding every assault the Marines conducted in the Pacific. Thousands of their messages documented Japanese troop movements, battlefield tactics and other communications critical to the war's outcome. These men were defined by far more than their military service and their ability to speak a secret language. They represented the best kind of Americans. Take Crosby. At 85, he taught Head Start children about the Navajo language and culture long after he retired, and also volunteered as a foster grandparent. He was aptly laid to rest at the Chinle Community Center, near his hometown of Many Farms. "Mr. Crosby never stopped giving back to his community," Navajo President Ben Shelly told the AP. "He was a model for his people well beyond his service to his country and people." We've been fortunate to have a number of former Code Talkers in Arizona over many, many years. Samuel Tom Holiday, a man sent behind Japanese lines at Iwo Jima during WWII to find artillery sites that were shelling U.S. forces, spoke at Prescott High School earlier this year. Allen Dale June, one of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers, died at the Prescott VA in 2010 at age 91 after receiving his Warrior Medal of Valor earlier that year in Prescott. The year prior, another former Code Talker, Willard Varnell Oliver, also lived at the Prescott VA until his death. In 2002, former Code Talker Sidney Bedoni served as grand marshal of the annual Veterans Day parade at the Prescott VA. Although many were discharged in the 1940s, the Code Talkers' part in WWII wasn't public knowledge until the military declassified their contributions in 1968. The list of living Code Talkers, however, is becoming precariously short. "He's a rare endangered species," June's wife of 37 years, Virginia, said in 2010. We salute the rarest of those who served.
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