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Navajo Code Talker Joe Vandever Sr. dies at age 96

Posted at 9:13 AM, Jan 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-31 11:18:41-05

HAYSTACK, NM — Joe Vandever, Sr. reportedly died Friday morning at the age of 97 in Haystack, New Mexico.

“The Navajo people have lost another great warrior who sacrificed more than we’ll ever know to defend our country. On behalf of the Navajo Nation, we offer our prayers and heartfelt condolences to his wife, children, and many other loved ones,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, in a media release.

Vandever had suffered health complications before his death.

He enlisted with the U.S. Marine Corps in March of 1943 and was honorably discharged as Corporal on in January of 1946. The Navajo Nation says Vandever served in northern Solomons, Bougainville, Emirau Islands, Guam, Marianas Islands, Okinawa, Ryukyus Islands, Occupation of Japan, and Occupation of China.

The Navajo Nation says Vandever was married for 73 years to his wife, Bessie D. Vandever, who passed on in September of last year.

He leaves behind 36 grandchildren, 55 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

Services are being arranged with Cope Memorial Chapel in Gallup, New Mexico. He will be buried in Santa Fe National Cemetery.