Navajo Code Talker Joe Vandever Sr. dies at age 96


Navajo Code Talker Joe Vandever (courtesy Navajo Nation)

HAYSTACK, N.M. (KRQE)- On Friday morning, Navajo Code Talker Joe Vandever Sr. died at the age of 96 in Haystack, New Mexico. According to his family, Vandever died of health complications.

The Navajo Nation reports Vandever was born into the Red Running Into the Water People clan, born for Two Who Came to the Water clan on February 5, 1923. He was married to his wife, Bessie D. Vandever for 73 years.

“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.

On March 26, 1943, Vandever enlisted with the U.S. Marine Corps in Santa Fe, New Mexico and served in northern Solomons, Bougainville, Emirau Islands, Guam, Marianas Islands, Okinawa, Ryukuys Islands, Occupation of Japan and Occupation of China. He was honorably discharged as Corporal in 1946.

Vandever is survived by his sister Mary Vandever Delarito; his sons Gary, Tracy, Obie, Joe Jr., and Lester Vandever; his daughters Beth Nez, Phegie Vandever Slim, Sheila Vandever Nez; his 36 grandchildren, 55 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.

His services are being arranged in Gallup with Cope Memorial Chapel with his burial to take place at the Santa Fe National Cemetery.


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