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"They sent us wherever they needed us, wherever we were most dangerous." (Video interview, 46:17)

   Samuel Tom Holiday
Image of Samuel Tom Holiday
Samuel Holiday [2004]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Marine Corps
Unit: Headquarters & Service Company, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division
Service Location: Saipan; Iwo Jima; Tinian (Northern Mariana Islands); Marshall Island; Pacific Theater
Rank: Private First Class
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Private First Class Samuel Holiday was born in Oljato, Utah, within the Navajo Nation. He was raised by his mother in a traditional Navajo way of life, until being forced to attend a government-run boarding school at the age of 13, where he faced harsh discipline and abuse. After joining the Marine Corps in early 1943, he completed demanding training to become a Code Talker. In this critical role, he saw combat on Kwajalein, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima. Holiday often accompanied dangerous patrols to locate enemy positions, and called in artillery strikes using the Navajo Code that devastated Japanese positions. He was highly sensitive to the suffering that combat caused on both sides, however. The suffering that he witnessed during the war motivated him to become a traditional medicine man later in life so that he could help others in alleviating their pain.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (11 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (87 min.)
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (11 items)
Childhood on the reservation - herding sheep, hard winters, living in a hogan, raising their own food. (04:14) Being enrolled in Tuba City Boarding School, where he was punished for speaking in Navajo, and gave candy to older kids in exchange for help with learning English. (04:39) Reaction to entering the Marine Corps, Holiday’s friendship with Dan Akee, how his childhood on the reservation prepared him for boot camp. (03:28)
Training in communications and the Navajo Code at Camp Pendleton, being assigned to the 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division. (05:14) A conversation while pinned down by heavy enemy fire on Iwo Jima, in which he and his friends discussed what they would do if they survived and made it home. (01:51) Patrol to find Japanese artillery position on Saipan. Holiday sent call for artillery strike in Navajo Code, which destroyed the position. Holiday’s emotional reaction to killing. (05:39)
Intense fighting on Tinian, seeing Marines being wounded and killed by enemy artillery. (02:54) Anxiousness to get out of the military, did not tell military doctors about his head injury and post-traumatic stress. Being commanded not to tell anyone about Navajo Code. (01:16) Returning to the reservation, working as a police officer in Tuba City, and meeting his wife Lupita. (03:14)
Having an Enemy Way ceremony performed for him to help with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury symptoms. (07:10) Becoming a medicine man, being inspired to study traditional medicine by his memory of a wounded Marine that he wasn’t able to help, and wanting to help others. (04:32) 
  
 

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  October 26, 2011
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