About Thomas Claw, Navajo Code Talker
Thomas "Navajo Code Talker" Claw
Birth: Feb. 23, 1922 Many Farms Apache County Arizona, USA Death: May 26, 2009 Parker La Paz County Arizona, USA
A second Navajo Code Talker has died within a week.
Thomas Claw, 87, who was ill with cancer, died Tuesday, May 26, 2009, at the Northern Arizona VA Health Care Center in Prescott after a battle with cancer. Mr. Claw was born on February 23, 1922, in the Navajo community in Chinle, AZ. He attended Fort Wingate High School.
He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on March 13, 1943, in Phoenix. He was part of an elite group of Navajo Marines who confounded the Japanese during World War II by transmitting messages in their native language. He was sent to Camp Pendleton for special military qualification and training as a code talker.
He served with the 1st Marine Division and was overseas from Sept 20, 1943, until Nov. 6, 1945. He served in the Asiatic Pacific Areas of New Caledonia, Australia, New Britain, the Solomon Islands, Palau Islands, and Ryukyu Islands in Japan.
Mr. Claw received two presidential unit citations; the 1st Marine Reinforced for action against the enemy at Peleliu and Ngesebus from Sept 15-29, 1944, and for heroic action during the invasion and capture of Okinawa, April 1 to June 21, 1945.
He also received the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon for service with 11th Marine Regiment in action against the enemy at Cape Gloucester, New Britain, from Dec 26, 1943, until April 30, 1944. While in Okinawa, Mr. Claw was wounded and received a Purple Heart as a result of enemy action on June 24, 1945.
His son, Harold Claw, says his father freely spoke to groups about his role in the war until his health began to decline in recent years.
In the Photo: On National Navajo Code Talkers Day, August 14, 2008, Claw spoke with radio operators from around the West at the U.S. Army MARS communications station set up on Shea Road by Jim Wooddell. Claw (right) was joined by (from left) his daughter, Pauline James; his wife, Barbara; his son-in-law Rudy James, and his great-grandson, Nathaniel.
He was one of approximately 400 Navajo Code Talkers who served with Marines during World War II in the Pacific Theater. Serving with all six Marine divisions, the Code Talkers transmitted important messages in their native language.
The Navajo language is very complex, and it is considered impossible to learn unless one is immersed in it from youth. At the outbreak of World War II, it was estimated there were no more than 30 non-Navajos in the world who were fluent in the language. None of them were Japanese.
The Navajo Code Talkers are credited with saving many American lives during the way, and making possible the liberation of much of the land occupied by the Japanese. It is said the Marines could not have taken Iwo Jima without them.
After his military service, Mr. Claw relocated to Parker with his wife Barbara in 1948. He was employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a water master for the Colorado River Indian Irrigation Project, retiring after 20 years of service. He was in charge of delivering water to 80,000 acres of irrigated farmland.
Claw was one of many Navajos who came to the Colorado River Indian Reservation following the war. He first came to the Parker area in 1947.
Mr. Claw is survived by wife Barbara Claw, and his children Carolyn Hammond of Parker, Reynold Claw of Clearfield, Utah, and Pauline James, Harold Claw in Parker, and Gloria Claw all of Parker.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by the Parker Funeral Home in Parker, AZ.
Church services are as follows:
Saturday, May 30, 2009 9:00 a.m. (AZ time) Poston Community Baptist Church 26685 Mohave Road Parker, AZ 85344
Burial will be at the Parker Cemetery (15 Miles North from Church).
Reception will be at the Blue Water Casino.
Fellow Code Talker John Brown Jr. died May 20 at his home in Crystal, NM.
A special thanks to Sparkysgrl for sponsoring Thomas Claw's memorial.
Burial: Parker Community Cemetery Parker La Paz County Arizona, USA
Created by: Andrena's Daughter Record added: May 27, 2009 Find A Grave Memorial# 37599757
Thomas Claw, Navajo Code Talker's Timeline
February 23, 1922
Many Farms, AZ, USA
May 26, 2009
Prescott, AZ, USA
May 30, 2009
Parker, AZ, USA