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United States. Samuel Sandoval, one of the last “Navajo Code Talkers”, has died

Samuel Sandoval, one of the last “Navajo Code Talkers” who had transmitted American messages during World War II using a code based on their native language, died on the evening of Friday, July 29, 2022, at the hospital in Shiprock, New Mexico. He was 98 years old.

Of the first “Code Talkers” recruited by the Marine Corps in 1942 and 1943, only three (Peter MacDonald, John Kinsel Sr. and Thomas H. Begay) are still alive.

After the United States entered the war, hundreds of men were recruited from the vast Navajo nation to serve as “Code Talkers” in the US Marine Corps. These Amerindians were then responsible for helping to develop an indecipherable code, developed on the basis of the Navajo language, only understood and spoken by these soldiers.

In 1944, during the great battles of the Pacific against the Japanese, the American army had used this method of coding so that its messages were not understood by the enemy. The “code talkers” thus transmitted encrypted communications between the American bases scattered on the Pacific islands. The code, based on this then unwritten language, had baffled Japanese military cryptologists.

Native American soldiers also took part in all of the Marines’ assaults on that region of the globe, sending thousands of messages — without the slightest error — about Japanese troop movements, battlefield tactics, and more. essential communications to ensure Allied victory.

Prohibition to speak one’s own language

Born in Nageezi, near Chaco Culture National Park in northwest New Mexico, Samuel Sandoval, then 18, enlisted in the Marine Corps on March 26, 1943.

Ironically, the young soldier – torn from his family at a very young age – had previously been educated in a Methodist school where he was forbidden to speak the Navajo language. In the army, his role was to help recruit other Navajos from the school to join this secret unit developing words and an alphabet created by an original group of 29 Navajos.

Sandoval was then sent five times to fight in the Pacific, before being discharged with honors in 1946. However, after leaving the army, the “Code Talkers” were ordered not to discuss their role and mission. during the war, until the declassification of the operation… in 1968!

Almost half a century later, in 2014, Samuel Sandoval confided in his action in a book and a documentary of the same name “Naz Bah Ei Bijei: Heart of a Warrior”.

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