Samuel Sandoval, Last Navajo Code Talker, Dies at 98

Samuel Sandoval, one of the last members of the Navajo Code Talkers who encrypted critical American messages during World War II, has died at 98.

Navajo Code Talkers used language based on the native language of the Navajo nation to convey messages regarding Japanese troop placements and movements during U.S. Marine assaults in the Pacific. The Navajo language was unwritten at the time, and American enemies had virtually no way to crack the code.

Sandoval was one of four code talkers still alive today, out of hundreds who had been recruited during the war. The other three survivors are Peter MacDonald, John Kinsel Sr. and Thomas H. Begay.

Sandoval’s wife, Malula, announced his death to The Associated Press on Saturday. He died in a hospital near his home in New Mexico.

“Sam always said, ‘I wanted my young Navajos 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 would always carry on our heritage.”

Sandoval’s death comes about a month after the United States lost its last World War II Medal of Honor recipient.

Hershel “Woody” Williams, 98, was the last of 473 American servicemen to receive a Medal of Honor during World War II. Williams spent her final days with her family in a hospital in her home state of West Virginia.

Williams last appeared in public on Memorial Day, where he attended a veterans event in Huntington, West Virginia. He remarked to local media at the time that the event gave him hope for a resurgence of patriotism in the USA

“I’ve been there probably 25 to 30 times, but I think today we had more crowns of honor than ever before, and that’s encouraging,” Williams told WSAZ. “It encourages me that we’re coming back and we’ll be that United States of America again that had so much patriotism and love of country.”

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