IAM Mourns Passing of WWII ‘Code Talker’

Retired IAM member and World War II Navajo “code talker” Ernest Yazhe passed away January 12, 2016.

The IAM and the nation mourn the loss of World War II Marine Corps veteran and Navajo “code talker” Ernest Yazhe, a retired IAM member who died January 12, 2016 in Salt Lake City.

Born in New Mexico in 1923, Yazhe joined the Marines in 1942 and served in the Pacific campaign relaying battlefield messages in his native language, thwarting Japanese radio monitoring efforts.

He was honorably discharged in 1946 as a corporal and in 1948 went to work for Kennecott Mining Corp. near Salt Lake City. After nearly four decades, Yazhe retired as an IAM life member.

“We are honored to have had such a hero in the ranks of the IAM,” said IAM Western Territory General Vice President Gary Allen. “Ernest Yazhe and his brother ‘code talkers’ played an enormous role in our country’s victory in the Pacific.”

In 2001, Yazhe was awarded the Congressional Silver Medal in recognition of his service.

Click here to watch a Utah National Guard video interview with Yazhe.