Navajo Code Talker Samuel Sandoval Passes; Only Three Code Talkers Remain
One of the few remaining Navajo Code Talkers, Samuel Sandoval, died at the age of 98.
“Sam was a great warrior. (He) served his country well; especially using the top secret Navajo Code,” Navajo Code Talker and Navajo Code Talker Association President Peter MacDonald said in a text message to The Arizona Mirror.
“He wanted to tell all Navajo families and (the) younger generation the importance of our Navajo language,” he added. “He’ll be terribly missed.”
The Navajo Code talkers were a group of U.S. Marines who used their Native language to transmit messages during World War II. Only three are still alive today: MacDonald, John Kinsel Sr. and Thomas H. Begay.
Sandoval was born in 1922 in Nageezi, New Mexico, and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on March 26, 1943. He completed basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, where the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers arrived in September 1942. The men were responsible for developing the unbreakable code used across the Pacific during World War II.
Sandoval served five combat tours, including Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guam, Peleliu and Okinawa, and was honorably discharged in 1946.
During Sandoval’s military service, he earned a Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, a Combat Action Ribbon, a China Service Medal, a World War II Victory Medal, a Navy Occupation Service Medal with Asia Clasp, and an Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with a silver star. Sandoval also received the 2022 American Spirit Award for Bravery from the National WWII Museum.
Semper fi, et requiescat in pace, bellator inclitus.