Samuel Sandoval was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and one of the last remaining Navajo Code Talkers, who transmitted encrypted messages during World War II.
Navajo Code Talker
Growing up in New Mexico, Sandoval had been discouraged from speaking his native language of Navajo while attending school. But when he enlisted in the Marines during World War II, his language became a valuable asset to the war effort. Sandoval was among several hundred speakers of Native American languages, especially Navajo, who sent important messages using their native languages, which weren’t widely enough known to be easily translatable. Among other messages, Sandoval reported the news to military higher-ups that Japanese forces had surrendered. Discharged in 1946 after serving five tours of duty, Sandoval returned home to New Mexico, where he worked as a surveyor. Later, he became a substance abuse counselor and opened the clinic and halfway house To-Tah Alcohol Counseling. With Sandoval’s death, only three Navajo Code Talkers remain.
Sandoval on helping build the Navajo code
“Some of the words we couldn’t agree on. So we argued about it.” —from a 2019 interview for the Arizona Republic
Tributes to Samuel Sandoval
Full obituary: Arizona Republic