Navajo Code Talker William Tully Brown dies at 96; third death from group in past month

Shondiin Silversmith
The Republic |
Navajo Code Talker William T. Brown watches the Navajo Nation Code Talkers Day parade, August 14, 2018, in Window Rock, Arizona.

Navajo Code Talker William Tully Brown died Monday at age 96. He is the third Navajo Code Talker to pass away in the past month.

There are five known living Navajo Code Talkers remaining, according to Peter MacDonald, president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association. 

"He served his country well and helped preserved its freedom and liberty," MacDonald said in a phone interview with The Arizona Republic. "We know that he was a great person and a hero of World War II."

"He enjoyed a long life with his family and relatives," MacDonald added. "From my family, we express our condolences to the family of code talker Brown."

Brown was born on Oct. 30, 1922, in Black Mountain and he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1944 before being honorably discharged in 1946.

“On behalf of the Navajo people, we offer our thoughts and prayers for the family, loved ones, and community members who had the honor of knowing and sharing the life of Code Talker Brown. The Navajo Nation has lost another great Diné warrior,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a press release.

"We will always honor and remember the sacrifices he made at Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima in the protection of freedom and liberty," said Navajo Nation Speaker Seth Damon in a press release. "Mr. Brown’s contributions to the Tselani/Cottonwood community and the Navajo Nation will always be cherished.” 

MORE:Navajo Code Talker John Pinto dies at 94

Brown received the American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and Honorable Service Lapel Button.

Navajo Nation Chief Justice JoAnn B. Jayne sent her condolences to family and friends of Brown, saying that he was a beloved father, uncle and grandfather, and for many, a hero.

"Mr. Brown was a humble man who did not seek recognition but the world now knows of his service to his Nation and his country," Jayne added. "We have the power to not forget the contributions of our Navajo Code Talkers."

As a way to honor the legacy of the Navajo Code Talkers, Jayne asked the Navajo people to do so by speaking, learning and teaching the Navajo language every day.

The Navajo Code Talkers who are still alive include Thomas H. Begay, John Kinsel, Sr., MacDonald, Samuel Sandoval and Joe Vandever, Sr.

A viewing will be held on Thursday, June 6 at 8 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chapel in St. Michaels.

The funeral service will be at 10 a.m. at Fort Defiance Veterans Memorial Cemetery and the reception will be at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chapel in St. Michaels.

Reporter Shondiin Silversmith covers Indigenous people and communities in Arizona. Reach her at and follow her Twitter @DiinSilversmith.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to today.