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Navajo Code Talker Tom Jones Jr. dies in New Mexico

In this undated Marine Corps file photo, a platoon of Navajo Code Talkers stand in formation at Camp Elliot, Calif., under the supervision of Staff Sgt. Philip Johnston. The Navajo created the 1st version of their code at Camp Elliot.

GALLUP, N.M. — Tom Jones Jr., 89, a Navajo Code Talker, died Monday at San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington, New Mexico, of pneumonia and other medial conditions, according to a press release from the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President.

He was part of a group of soldiers who used the Navajo language to communicate military messages during the Pacific battles of World War II.

Jones was inducted into the U.S. Marine Corps on Nov. 26, 1943, and was honorably discharged on Dec. 30, 1945.

He served as a messenger for the 3rd Division, Unit 297 Navajo Code Talkers 767 and the Navajo Code Talkers 642 platoons based at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

After his service, he worked for Navajo Mine in Fruitland.

Among the awards Jones received for his military service is the Congressional Silver Medal, which is displayed in his home in Tse Daa Kaan Chapter.

"Our father was a private, humble, simple, caring and giving father, grandfather, brother, friend and comrade. His heart was caring, his mind was strict, his life was blessed and his soul was graceful," said Carmelita Nelson, Jones' daughter, in the press release.

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly signed a proclamation to have tribal flags flown at half-staff from Wednesday through Saturday in honor of Jones.

"The Navajo Nation has lost another hero and role model to our people. We are saddened by the loss of Tom Jones Jr. and the nation sends our condolences and prayers to his family," Shelly said in the press release.

Jones is survived by three children, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Diné Christian Center in Shiprock.

Donations to help the Jones family can be made at Wells Fargo Bank under account number 2221454164.

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