WWII Navajo Code Talker Samuel Sandoval Dies at 98 — 3 Remain from Group

Samuel Sandoval, one of the last remaining Navajo Code Talkers from World War II, died at the age of 98.

Sandoval, born in 1922 in Nageezi, New Mexico, passed away late Friday at a hospital in Shiprock, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

The hundreds of Navajo Code Talkers of the U.S. Marine Corps were instrumental in winning the Pacific Theater, as they were used in major Marine assaults against the Japanese in World War II.

The Code Talkers would communicate messages using the unwritten Navajo language on enemy military movement, confusing the Japanese attempting to crack their code.

Sandoval, who enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1943, was serving in the battle of Okinawa when he received a message in Navajo from another code talker that the Japanese had surrendered, leading him to relay the message up the chain of command, the AP noted. He was honorably discharged from the military in 1946.

Following the conclusion of the war, the Navajo Code Talkers were forbidden from talking about their operation until it was declassified in 1968, CNN noted.

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan declared August 14 as the Navajo Code Talkers day. Twenty years later, the code talkers were honored with Congressional Gold and Silver medals, including Sandoval, who received a silver medal, according to the Arizona Republic.

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