Navajo Code Talker Samuel Sandoval dies
One of the last remaining Navajo Code Talkers has died. Samuel Sandoval died late Friday at a hospital in Shiprock, New Mexico. He was 98.
Hundreds of Navajos were recruited from the vast Navajo Nation to serve as Code Talkers during World War II. Only three Code Talkers are still alive today: Peter MacDonald, John Kinsel Sr. and Thomas H. Begay.
Sandoval was born in northwestern New Mexico. He enlisted in the Marine Corps after attending a Methodist school where he was discouraged from speaking Navajo. He helped recruit other Navajos from the school to serve as Code Talkers, expanding on words and an alphabet that an original group of 29 Navajos created. The code that was based on the then-unwritten Navajo language confounded Japanese military cryptologists and helped the U.S. win the war.
Sandoval served in five combat tours and was honorably discharged in 1946.
The Code Talkers had orders not to discuss their roles — not during the war and not until their mission was declassified in 1968. The roles later became an immense source of pride for Sandoval and his late brother, Merrill Sandoval, who also was a Code Talker.
Sandoval’s wife told the Associated Press that he was looking forward to the annual celebration of the Navajo men on Aug. 14 and seeing a museum to honor the Code Talkers built near Window Rock.
Funeral services are pending.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.