Thomas Claw, 87, one of an elite group of Navajo Marines who confounded the Japanese during World War II by transmitting messages in their native language, died Tuesday at the veterans hospital in Prescott, Ariz., after a battle with cancer.

His son Harold said Mr. Claw freely spoke to groups about his role in the war until his health began to decline in recent years.

Mr. Claw was born in the Navajo community of Chinle in northeastern Arizona. He moved to an area near Parker in western Arizona in the late 1940s, where he and his wife raised a family.

- AP