One of the few remaining WWII Navajo code talkers has died

Unsung Heroes

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

Jeff Schogol

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.

Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.

Read More Show Less

U.S. Special Operations Command may be on the verge of making the dream of flying infantry soldiers a reality, but the French may very well beat them to it.

On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron shared an unusual video showing a man on a flying platform — widely characterized as a "hoverboard" — maneuvering through the skies above the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris armed with what appears to be a dummy firearm.

The video was accompanied with a simple message of "Fier de notre armée, moderne et innovante," which translates to "proud of our army, modern and innovative," suggesting that the French Armed Forces may be eyeing the unusual vehicle for potential military applications.

Read More Show Less
(New Jersey National Guard photo by Mark C. Olsen)

If you've ever wondered if the Pentagon has ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with biological weapons, you're not alone.

Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) authored an amendment to the House version of the Fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would require the Defense Department Inspector General's Office to find out if the U.S. military experimented with using ticks and other insects as biological weapons between 1950 and 1975.

If such experiments took place, the amendment would require the inspector general's office to tell lawmakers if any of the ticks or other bugs "were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design."

Read More Show Less

There's no one path to military service. For some, it's a lifelong goal, for others, it's a choice made in an instant.

For 27-year-old Marine Pvt. Atiqullah Assadi, who graduated from Marine Corps bootcamp on July 12, the decision to enlist was the culmination of a journey that began when he and his family were forced to flee their home in Afghanistan.

Read More Show Less
(Facebook photo)

The Air Force has administratively separated the Nellis Air Force Base sergeant who was investigated for making racist comments about her subordinates in a video that went viral last year, Task & Purpose has learned.

Read More Show Less