This Spring I read Navajo Weapon (by Sally McClain) about the Navajo code talkers in World War II. I have visited a small museum in Gallup, NM dedicated to the code talkers while I was there performing some environmental studies on the 17.5 million acre Navajo Nation. Here’s my favorite anecdote from McClain’s book about one of the Navajo servicemen:
Pfc Carl Gorman was assigned to serve during the battle on Tinian. A concussion from a mortar shell explosion combined with a bout of malaria sent him to the hospital unconscious, away from the battle zone. When he awoke he found himself in a white gown tucked into white sheets in a bed. He thought he had died and gone to heaven.
“There was a pitcher of water by the bed and I thought, people drink water in heaven,” Gorman recalled. “Then I saw a window and thought, there are windows in heaven. On the opposite wall was a picture of a battleship firing a cannon and I knew that this was not heaven. There are no battleships in heaven.”
Gorman lived until the age of 90, dying in 1998.