Thomas Claw Died at a Veterans Hospital in Prescott, Arizona, on May 26, 2009
Thomas Claw was an outstanding Navajo Code Talker during World War II, frequently confounding Japanese forces. On May 26, 2009 – at age 87 – he died peacefully at a veterans hospital in Prescott, Arizona.
Claw moved his family from Parker, Arizona to Parker after his time in the Marines was up. There, he worked as a water master for approximately twenty years with the Colorado River Indian Irrigation Project.
Early Life and Education
Thomas Claw passed away May 26 at an Arizona veterans hospital at age 87. He had served with an elite unit of Navajo Marines during World War II who provided coded communications that baffled Japanese troops. Claw recalled this experience freely until recently as his health weakened.
He enlisted in 1943, and was sent to Camp Pendleton for special military training as a Code Talker. While with the 11th Marine Regiment he saw service in New Britain, Peleliu and Okinawa. For this he was honored with two Presidential Unit Citations as well as a Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon.
After World War II he moved to Parker, Arizona where he served as water master for the Bureau of Indian Affairs on their Colorado River Indian Irrigation Project until retiring. He is survived by his wife Barbara and children Carolyn Hammond of Clearfield Utah, Reynold Claw from Parker Arizona as well as Pauline James Harold Claw and Gloria Claw who currently reside there.
Thomas has an expansive dispute resolution practice that spans multiple industries including financial, commodity and international sports. He is acknowledged by leading business newspapers such as Neue Zurcher Zeitung and Handelszeitung for his expertise in cases involving US and Swiss authorities.
Claw joined the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton, California in 1943 and was assigned to the 11th Regiment, 1st Marine Division based out of Hawaii, serving in the Pacific Theater where he earned several accolades including Presidential Unit Citations, Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, and eventually, Purple Heart award.
After his military service, he relocated to Parker, Arizona with his wife Barbara and was employed as the water master of the Colorado River Indian Irrigation Project. Unfortunately he passed away at age 87 in 2009; leaving behind Barbara Hammond, Renold Claw, Pauline James Harold Claw and Gloria Claw as survivors.
Achievement and Honors
Thomas Claw was a Navajo code talker who served in World War II’s Pacific Theater as part of the 1st Marine Division and received multiple citations including presidential unit citations, navy unit commendation ribbon, Purple Heart medal and even distinguished service medal for his defense efforts on Okinawa and Philippine islands.
Thomas Claw has distinguished himself through military and community service as a volunteer. Since 1996 he has been actively involved with Dickinson College Men’s Honor Society Raven’s Claw, serving on its board of directors and holding office within it.
Honor Society selects seven rising seniors each year for membership, providing positive leadership on campus while engaging in service projects and alumni networking events.
Thomas Claw, 87, died Tuesday at a veterans hospital in Prescott. He had served with pride in an elite unit of Navajo Marines that flummoxed Japanese forces during World War II by communicating in their native tongue – something which he proudly spoke about until recently as his health began deteriorating further.
He attributes his drive for business success to an incident from 1979 in Boston when a hotel caught fire during his stay and left him hanging from a window ledge until rescue came.
Barbara Claw survives him, along with their children Carolyn Hammond of Parker, Arizona; Reynold Claw from Clearfield, Utah; Pauline James and Harold Claw also from Parker; as well as three grandchildren.
Thomas Claw was a Navajo Code Talker during World War II and served as water master at the Colorado River Indian Irrigation Project for over twenty years. Living in Parker, Arizona with Barbara and their four children Carolyn Hammond, Pauline James, Harold Claw and Gloria Claw; Thomas passed away due to cancer at Northern Arizona VA Health Care Center in Prescott on May 26 2009.
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