A Navajo code talker who used the Navajo language to outsmart the Japanese in World War II has died in New Mexico, Navajo Nation officials said.
David Patterson Sr. died October 8 in Rio Rancho at age 94 from pneumonia and complications from subdural hematoma.
Although Patterson didn’t talk much about his service, one of his sons said his father was proud of being a Navajo Code Talker.
“He attended as many Code Talker events as he could,” Pat Patterson said. “It was only when his health started to decline that he didn’t attend as many.”
Patterson served in the Marine Corps from 1943 to 1945 and was the recipient of the Congressional Silver Medal in 2001.
After his military service, Patterson became a social worker and worked for the tribe’s Division of Social Services until retiring in 1987.
He raised his family in Oklahoma, California and Shiprock, New Mexico, and is survived by six children.
Pat Patterson told the Farmington Daily-Times that his father moved to Rio Rancho in 2012 to live with his youngest son.
Funeral services are pending and will be held at Christ The King Catholic Church in Shiprock, New Mexico.
Patterson will be buried on the military side of the Shiprock Cemetery.