/ Modified jan 31, 2020 3:31 p.m.

Navajo Code Talker dies at 96; less than a handful remain

Joe Vandever Sr. was one of the few remaining Navajo Code Talkers.

Joe vandever vl VIEW LARGER Navajo Code Talker Joe Vandever Sr.
Navajo Nation Office of the President

One of the few remaining Navajo Code Talkers, who used their native language to confound the Japanese in World War II, has died.

The family of Joe Vandever Sr. says he died Friday of health complications in Haystack, New Mexico. He was 96. Tribal leaders called him a great warrior and a compassionate family man.

He was among hundreds of Navajos who served in the U.S. Marine Corps transmitting messages using a code based on the Navajo language. It was never broken. His death leaves less than a handful of Navajo Code Talkers still alive.

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