“He left his soles
... said Lita Kieyoomia
of her late husband, Joe Kieyoomia, at the
Bataan Memorial dedication in Albuquerque on
April 7, 2002.
because his captors thought he was
Japanese-American, Joe Kieyoomia suffered
months of beatings before the Japanese
accepted his claim to Navajo ancestry.
When the “Navajo Code”
had the Japanese baffled, Kieyoomia was
questioned and then tortured. Kieyoomia did
not know about the code. In an interview
many years later he said, “Even if I knew
about their code, I wouldn't tell the
Stripped naked and made
to stand for hours in deep snow until he
talked, Joe Kieyoomia’s feet froze to the
ground. Finally allowed to return to his
cell, a guard shoved him, causing the
bottoms of his feet to tear.
And the beatings
“I wanted to die. Many
times, I thought I was close.”
Kieyoomia survived the
prison camps, the Hell Ships and the
torture. After 3-1/2 years as a prisoner of
war, he was liberated and returned to the
land of his birth.
Joe Kieyoomia died in