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One of the few remaining WWII Navajo code talkers has died

The diminishing ranks of indigenous code talkers who helped the U.S. and Allies win World War II have decreased by one more with the death of Fleming Begaye Sr., who died on Friday.

He was 97.


Born Aug. 26, 1921, Begaye was Tódích’íi’nii (Bitter Water Clan) and born for Kinlichii’nii (Red House People Clan) in the community of Red Valley, Arizona, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer said in a Facebook announcement.

He lived in Chinle, Arizona.

“The Navajo Nation has lost another brave and selfless Diné warrior, who sacrificed more than we’ll ever know to defend our country,” Nez said. “We offer our heartfelt appreciation to the family for sharing his life with us. May the Creator bless you and your family with strength and comfort.”

He was among 400 or so Navajo warriors who served over the course of World War II, according to the National Museum of the American Indian.

“The Navajo Code Talkers participated in all assaults the U.S. Marines led in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945, including Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Peleliu and Iwo Jima,” The Arizona Republic recounted last July. “The Code Talkers conveyed messages by telephone and radio in their native language, a code that was never broken by the Japanese.”

n this Monday, Nov. 27, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump meets with Navajo Code Talkers, Fleming Begaye Sr., seated and Thomas Begay, center, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. World War II-era Navajo Code Talker Fleming Begaye, Sr., passed away on Friday, May 10, 2019.

(Associated Press/Susan Walsh)

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