Thomas Claw, 87; served as Code Talker in WWII A second Navajo Code Talker has died within a week. Thomas Claw died Tuesday at the Northern Arizona VA Health Care Center in Prescott after a battle with cancer. He was 87. Claw was part of an elite group of Navajo Marines who confounded the Japanese during World War II by transmitting messages in their native language. Son Harold Claw said his father freely spoke to groups about his role in the war until his health began to decline in recent years. Fellow Code Talker John Brown Jr. died May 20, at his home in Crystal, N.M. "Just as we bade farewell to one of our honored Code Talkers, we sadly hear of the loss of another," said Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. "It is with deep regret that we learned of the passing of Navajo Code Talker Thomas Claw, another of our distinguished warriors from World War II." Claw was born in the Navajo community of Chinle in northeastern Arizona. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in March 1943 and was sent to Camp Pendleton, Calif., for training as a Code Talker. Claw served with the 1st Marine Division and was overseas from September 1943 to November 1945, working in the Asiatic Pacific areas of New Caledonia, Australia, New Britain, the Solomon Islands, Palau Islands, and Ryukyu Islands in Japan. He received a handful of awards for his service, including two presidential unit citations and a Purple Heart stemming from injuries he received during combat on Okinawa. After leaving the military, Claw moved to Parker in western Arizona in the late 1940s, where he and his wife raised a family. The following 20 years were spent with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Claw was a water master for the Colorado River Indian Irrigation Project and oversaw the delivery of water to 80,000 acres of irrigated farmland. He is survived by his wife, Barbara Claw, and five children. Thomas Claw (February 23, 1922 – May 26, 2009) was an American Navajo Code Talker during World War II. He served with the 1st Marine Division throughout the Pacific theater during the war. Claw was born in Chinle, Arizona, on February 23, 1922. He attended Fort Wingate High School before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps on March 13, 1943, in Phoenix, Arizona.Claw, who was fluent in Navajo, was sent to Camp Pendleton to be trained as a code talker. Claw served with the 1st Marine Division as a code talker throughout World War II. He was stationed in Australia, New Caledonia, New Britain, the Solomon Islands, Palau and the Ryukyu Islands. Claw moved to Parker, Arizona, with his wife, Barbara, following the end of World War II and his departure from the Marines. He worked as a water master for the Colorado River Indian Irrigation Project, a program run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, for approximately twenty years. Thomas Claw died of cancer at the Northern Arizona VA Health Care Center in Prescott, Arizona, on May 26, 2009, at the age of 87. He was survived by his wife, Barbara Claw and their children Carolyn Hammond, Renold Claw, Pauline James, Harold Claw and Gloria Claw. Claw's death came less than a week after the death of another Navajo Code Talker, John Brown, Jr. Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley signed a proclamation ordering all flags lowered to half staff until Claw's funeral stating, "Just as we bade farewell to one of our honored Code Talkers, we sadly hear of the loss of another. It is with deep regret that we learned of the passing of Navajo Code Talker Thomas Claw, another of our distinguished warriors from World War II."
Return to Native American Obituaries Page
Return to Native American Page