TUBA CITY, Ariz. - One of the heroic Navajo Code Talkers has died.
Sgt. Maj. Dan Akee passed away in Tuba City, Arizona, Friday morning. He was 96.
“Dan Akee was not just a Navajo Nation treasure. He was an international treasure and icon whose service will stand as a testament to the freedom of all Americans,” Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said in a release.
The news comes just over a month after the death of fellow code talker Joe Hosteen Kellwood.
According to a release from the Navajo Nation, Akee was involved in conflicts on four Pacific islands, including Iwo Jima. He was at the Battle of Iwo Jima when six marines raised the U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi.
“My father always told us to be proud of speaking the Navajo language,” Akee's son and board member of the Code Talkers Association said in a release. “Always be careful of the words you speak, as they are sacred, he would warn us,”
The code talkers were vital in leading Allied forces to victory over Japan in WWII. The Navajo language prevented critical information and strategies from falling into the hands of enemy forces. The code (language) was never broken.
"Arizona is so proud of our Navajo Code Talkers. Today we mourn Sergeant Major Dan Akee who passed away this morning. Prayers to his family," Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted Friday.
PHOTOS: Honoring the Navajo Code Talkers