Flags on Navajo Nation Lowered to Honor Deceased Code Talker

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Navajo code talker Joe Vandever Sr. speaks with Leland Anthony.
FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2011, file photo, Leland Anthony, Arizona Rep. for Indian Health Incorp., left, speaks with Navajo code talker Joe Vandever Sr. during Native American Day at the roundhouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico. One of the few remaining Navajo Code Talkers who used their native language to confound the Japanese in World War II has died. Joe Vandever Sr. died of health complications Jan. 31, 2020, in Haystack, New Mexico, according to his family. He was 96. (Jane Phillips/The New Mexican via AP)

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Flags on the Navajo Nation have been lowered to to honor a revered Navajo Code Talker who died in New Mexico last week.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement that all flags will fly at half-staff through Thursday as a tribute to Joe Vandever, Sr.

Vandever died Friday of health complications in Haystack, according to his family. He was 96.

Vandever was among hundreds of Navajos who served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, transmitting messages using a code based on the Navajo language. The code developed by an original group of 29 Navajos was used to confound Japanese forces. It was never broken.

RelatedNavajo Code Talker Dies at 96; Less Than a Handful Remain

Vandever enlisted in the Marines in Santa Fe in March 1943 and was honorably discharged in January 1946. He worked multiple jobs after the war, including for an oil company and as a mining prospector, and stressed the importance of the Navajo language. He also was a medicine man.

Less than a handful of Navajo Code Talkers are still alive.

A funeral is scheduled Wednesday at El Morro Theater in Gallup, New Mexico. Vandever will be buried Thursday at the Santa Fe National Cemetery.

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