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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey mourned the passing of World War II Navajo Code Talker, Samuel Sandoval, at the age of 98 in a tweet Monday.
"Arizona and the nation are grateful for Samuel Sandoval’s service," Ducey said. "As a Navajo Code Talker, he was instrumental in our WWII victory. Our prayers are with his family."
Sandoval died late Friday in a hospital in Shiprock, New Mexico, according to the Journal. Following his passing, only three Navajo Code Talkers are still alive: Peter MacDonald, John Kinsel Sr., and Thomas Begay.
Sandoval was one of hundreds of Navajos recruited to serve in the United States Marine Corps as Code Talkers during WWII, the Journal reported. They took part in every Pacific assault, sending critical relay messages about Japanese activity and movements. The code was based on the then-unwritten Navajo language, which was practically uncrackable by Japanese cryptologists and credited by Americans as key to winning the war.
Following WWII, Sandoval became a speaker, alongside his late brother, Merrill Sandoval, and would frequently tell his life story to packed houses, according to the Journal.
"We were kids, all growing up and we started to hear about the stories,” said Merrill's daughter, Jeanine Sandoval. “We were so proud of them, and there weren't very many brothers together."
An outpouring of support followed the news of Sandoval's death.
"We are saddened by his passing, but his legacy will always live on in our hearts and minds," said Navajo President, Jonathan Nez, in a statement.
Navajo Nation Council Speaker, Seth Damon, praised Sandoval's character and integrity.
“May he rest among our most resilient warriors,” he said in a statement.