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Real-Life "Windtalker" Shares His Story

By: Rye Addis Email
By: Rye Addis Email

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One of the keys to victory over Japan during World War II, was a team of men speaking in code. They were Navajo Code Talkers who used their native tongue to send tactical messages to allied forces.

Samuel Holiday, a World War II hero who served as a Navajo Code Talker in the Marine Corps from 1943 to 1945, came to Garden City Community College to share his story with hundreds of listeners. Some may recall the 2002 film, "Windtalkers," inspired by the true story of Navajo soldiers who use their language to help win several battles in World War II.

On Wednesday morning, Holiday spoke to a packed auditorium. His message was well-received. "Awesome," said Bill Pilgrim, a veteran himself who was in attendance. "I just wish I could have known him back then. I was in the Marine Corps just like Samuel was," continued Pilgrim. "I wanted to come out and hear his story from when he was in the marines back in World War II."

Holiday talked about growing up, joining the marines and learning the Navajo code, a program that remained classified until 1968. He says he loves to share his past. "I like that people really enjoy it," admits Holiday with a smile.

Several stayed afterwards seeking autographs for his book entitled, "Navajo Weapon." "I really enjoy [telling my story]," says Holiday. "The people here are really friendly. And also, I like the country here."

After returning from overseas, Holiday worked several years as a Navajo police officer and then for a coal company. In 2001, he was awarded the Congressional Silver Medal.


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