Code Talker Jimmie Begay passes away

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The Navajo Nation has lost another code talker.

Sgt. Jimmie Begay passed away Wednesday night at Tsehootsoi Medical Center in Fort Defiance at the age of 88.

During World War II, Begay served in the 1st Marine Division, 2nd Battalion, in Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guam, Saipan, and Tinian.

Begay enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in November 1942 when he was 17 years old, according to the president's office.

From Fort Wingate, N.M., he boarded a bus for Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he completed boot camp before transferring to Camp Elliot to train as a code talker.

After completing his service in the Marines in 1945, Begay received an honorable discharge. He then finished his schooling at Santa Fe Indian High School.

He worked as a guard at the Army Depot-Japanese Internment Camp in Leupp, Ariz. He competed in boxing before starting work at Navajo Forest Products Industry in Navajo, N.M. He retired from NFPI in 1985.

Begay earned numerous commendations for his service in the Pacific theater, including the Congressional Silver Medal in 2001.

Begay is survived by his son, Thurman Begay of Sawmill, Ariz.; grandchildren, Jacquelyn A. Begay and Janelle R. Begay of Sawmill, Scott Begay and Rhonda Roan of Albuquerque; and five great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Sophie Begay; parents, Carl Begay and Nazbah Blackgoat; brothers, Kenneth M. Begay and Kee Begay; sisters, Ruth Stewart and Lottie Randall; and son, Perry Begay.

Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament church in Fort Defiance. Burial will be at the family cemetery in Red Lake, N.M.

President Ben Shelly has ordered the Navajo Nation flag to be flown at half-staff from Thursday through sundown on Sunday in honor of Begay.

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