#VeteranOfTheDay Marine Corps Veteran Samuel Sandoval
On Code Talker’s Day, today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Marine Corps Veteran Samuel Sandoval, a Navajo who fought during World War II.
Born in 1922 in Nageezi, New Mexico, Samuel Sandoval attended a Methodist school in western New Mexico for 12 years. They discouraged him from speaking his native Navajo language.
After graduating, Sandoval enlisted in the Marine Corps on March 26, 1943. He completed basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, where the 29 original Code Talkers had arrived in September 1942. Sandoval spent 20 weeks at Camp Pendleton, California, memorizing the Navajo code. As one of the 418 Code Talkers who served during World War II, Sandoval used the 813-word Navajo code to send and receive military communications in the South Pacific Theater.
Sandoval served in five South Pacific Combat tours: the Battle of Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guam, Peleliu and Okinawa. Receiving a message from another Code Talkers that the Japanese forces surrendered on Aug. 14, 1945, was the most memorable moment of his service.
Sandoval earned a Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, a Combat Action Ribbon, a China Service Medal, a World War II Victory Medal, a Navy Occupation Service Medal with Asia Clasp and an Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with a silver star, in lieu of five bronze stars.
Sandoval discharged from the Marine Corps after World War II. He and his fellow Code Talkers could not talk about the Navajo code for over 20 years. He could not tell his parents about his role in World War II before they passed away. Sandoval’s brother, Merrill, also served as a Code Talker in World War II, but they never worked together and did not discuss their service with one another. In 1968, the brothers could finally talk about their military service.
In 2001, Sandoval received a Silver Congressional Award Medal from President George W. Bush. The 2012 documentary “Naz Bah Ei Bijei: Heart of a Warrior” chronicles Sandoval’s life story and role as a Code Talker.
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.