One of the few remaining WWII Navajo code talkers has died

Unsung Heroes
Navajo Code Talkers Honored at the White House

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)

Begay served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1943 to 1945, fighting in the Battle of Tarawa and the Batter of Tinian. He spent a year in a naval hospital recovering from war wounds, the statement said.

"Code Talker Begaye was a warrior, a family man, and a business man. In every aspect of his life, he was a loving person who cared greatly for his people," said Lizer. "Today, I ask our Diné people to keep his spirit and his family in your prayers as we give thanks for his life and his legacy."

After the war he returned to the Navajo Nation and operated Begaye's Corner, a trading post in Chinle. He was pre-deceased by his wife, Helen M. Begaye, who walked on in 2008, and two of his three children.

"Every decision I made, I really had to run it by him because he always gave the best advice," his granddaughter, Theodosia Ott, told The Arizona Republic. "He was always a person that would give you the last penny he had in his pocket."

Funeral services are scheduled for May 17, The Arizona Republic reported.

Begaye and the other Code Talkers were forbidden from talking about their World War II experience until the program was declassified in 1968, The Arizona Republic noted.

He and two other Code Talkers were honored at the White House by President Trump in 2017.

"Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Navajo Code Talkers, whose bravery, skill & tenacity helped secure our decisive victory over tyranny & oppression during WWII," Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, tweeted at the time, according to the Associated Press.

Begaye told his granddaughter he would not have changed his service.

"There was no other choice," Ott said her grandfather told her, according to The Arizona Republic. "We had to make sure that everyone in the U.S. was safe."

———

©2019 New York Daily News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

SEE ALSO: World War II Navajo Code Talker David E Patterson Sr Dies At 94

WATCH NEXT: A Code Talker Sings The Marine Corps Hymn In Navajo

US Marine Corps

The Marine lieutenant colonel who was removed from command of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May is accused of lying to investigators looking into allegations of misconduct, according to a copy of his charge sheet provided to Task & Purpose on Monday.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump just can't stop telling stories about former Defense Secretary James Mattis. This time, the president claims Mattis said U.S. troops were so perilously low on ammunition that it would be better to hold off launching a military operation.

"You know, when I came here, three years ago almost, Gen. Mattis told me, 'Sir, we're very low on ammunition,'" Trump recalled on Monday at the White House. "I said, 'That's a horrible thing to say.' I'm not blaming him. I'm not blaming anybody. But that's what he told me because we were in a position with a certain country, I won't say which one; we may have had conflict. And he said to me: 'Sir, if you could, delay it because we're very low on ammunition.'

"And I said: You know what, general, I never want to hear that again from another general," Trump continued. "No president should ever, ever hear that statement: 'We're low on ammunition.'"

Read More Show Less

At least one Air Force base is waging a slow battle against feral hogs — and way, way more than 30-50 of them.

A Texas trapper announced on Monday that his company had removed roughly 1,200 feral hogs from Joint Base San Antonio property at the behest of the service since 2016.

Read More Show Less

In a move that could see President Donald Trump set foot on North Korean soil again, Kim Jong Un has invited the U.S. leader to Pyongyang, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday, as the North's Foreign Ministry said it expected stalled nuclear talks to resume "in a few weeks."

A letter from Kim, the second Trump received from the North Korean leader last month, was passed to the U.S. president during the third week of August and came ahead of the North's launch of short-range projectiles on Sept. 10, the South's Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.

In the letter, Kim expressed his willingness to meet the U.S. leader for another summit — a stance that echoed Trump's own remarks just days earlier.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.

In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.

A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.

The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.

Read More Show Less