Navajo Code Talker Dies In Arizona

Published February 2, 2012 11:27PM (EST)

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Another Navajo Code Talker has died.

Thurmon Begay says his father, Sgt. Jimmie Begay of Sawmill, died Wednesday after a fall. He was 86.

Begay was one of about 420 Navajos trained to transmit messages in a code based on the then-unwritten Navajo language. The Code Talkers sent thousands of messages without error on Japanese troop movements, battlefield tactics and other communications, helping to win World War II.

Jimmie Begay enlisted in 1942 at age 17 and served in the 1st Marine Division, 2nd Battalion. He eventually returned to the Navajo reservation and retired from the Navajo Forest Products Industries in 1985.

Flags are being lowered across the reservation through Sunday in Begay's honor. Funeral services are set for Saturday in Fort Defiance. Burial will follow at a family plot.

By Salon Staff

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