FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Samuel Sandoval, one of the last remaining Navajo Code Talkers who transmitted messages in World War II using a code based on their native language, has died.
Sandoval died late Friday at a hospital in Shiprock, New Mexico, his wife, Malula told The Associated Press on Saturday. He was 98.
Hundreds of Navajos were recruited from the vast Navajo Nation to serve as Code Talkers with the U.S. Marine Corps. Only three are still alive today: Peter MacDonald, John Kinsel Sr. and Thomas H. Begay.
The code, based on the then-unwritten Navajo language, confounded Japanese military cryptologists. The Code Talkers are celebrated annually on Aug. 14, the day the Japanese surrendered.
Malula Sandoval said her husband had been looking forward to participating in the celebration this year and seeing a museum built in honor of the Code Talkers.
“Sam always said, ‘I wanted my Navajo youngsters to learn, they need to know what we did and how this code was used and how it contributed to the world,’" she said Saturday. “That the Navajo language was powerful and always to continue carrying our legacy.”
Felicia Fonseca, The Associated Press