Navajo Code Talker Thomas H. Begay wanted to be a gunner. Here's how he became a Code Talker
Aug. 29, 2019
ONE OF THE LAST SURVIVING NAVAJO CODE TALKERS THOMAS H. BEGAY SHARES HIS STORY ABOUT HIS SERVICE IN THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS.
Ronald said his father suffers from a post-traumatic stress disorder and has flashbacks of his time during his service at Iwo Jima. "It's still with him," Ronald said. "He still thinks about it."
Navajo Code Talker Thomas H. Begay (right) before the start of the Navajo Nation Code Talkers Day parade on Aug. 14, 2018, at the Navajo Nation Fairgrounds in Window Rock. (Photo: Mark Henle/The Republic)About a month after the battle of Iwo Jima in 1945, Navajo Code Talker Thomas H. Begay was flown to Pearl Harbor for a week. He wasn't told why and he didn't ask questions.
He was taken to the United State Naval base on Pearl Harbor with fellow Navajo Code Talker Wilson H. Price. Once they arrived, they met a Navy lieutenant at the communication center. He led Begay and Price to a round building filled with various vaults.
The vaults were opened. From inside, wagons full of paper were brought to the Code Talkers.
"It was all the messages sent (and received) on Iwo Jima," he said.
Begay said the lieutenant kept an eye on them and took notes of the entire process. After hundreds of messages, they were told the purpose of their task: to determine if there were any mistakes in any of the messages the Navajo Code Talkers sent and received throughout the Iwo Jima operation.
"800 messages we went through," Begay said. "There were no mistakes."
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