C-SPAN video: Navajo Code Talkers Keith Little, Samuel Smith and Sam Billison are interviewed in Washington, D.C., in May, 2004
Keith Little, who joined the Marine Corps at age 17 and became one of the famed Navajo Code Talkers of World War II, died Tuesday at an Arizona hospital. He was 87.
Little, the longtime president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association, spent his last years touring the country to gain support and funding for a museum honoring the men whose use of the Navajo language in radio transmissions confounded the Japanese during the war in the Pacific.
"My motivation was to fight the enemy with a gun or whatever," Little told The Associated Press in a July 2009 interview. "When I went into the Marine Corps ... I knew nothing about the Navajo code. It was really astonishing to me to get to Camp Pendleton and there were a bunch of Navajos there, and they were working with a Navajo code."