Lloyd Oliver, 88; Marine was Code Talker in WWII
CAMP VERDE, Ariz. — Lloyd was proud to have his native language serve as a key weapon during World War II. As part of an elite group of Marines, he helped develop and implement a code based on the Navajo language that helped win the war.
Years later, his hearing was impaired because of gun blasts and other explosives during the war. He rarely brought up his time as a Code Talker, but his eyes gleamed when holding a picture of himself in his uniform. He kept a Marine cap and a US flag displayed in the home he shared with his wife on the Yavapai Apache Reservation.
Mr. Oliver’s death at a hospice near Phoenix Wednesday at age 88 means that only one of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers survives — Chester Nez of Albuquerque.
Hundreds of Navajos followed in the original code talkers’ footsteps, sending thousands of messages without error on Japanese troop movements, battlefield tactics, and other communications critical to the war’s outcome.
The Code Talkers took part in every assault the Marines conducted in the Pacific.
Navajo President Ben Shelly called Mr. Oliver a national treasure and had flags lowered across the reservation in his honor.