80 years later, Navajo Code Talker marks group’s early days

  • Navajo Code Talker Thomas Begay salutes during the national anthem at the Arizona State Navajo Code Talkers Day celebration, Sunday, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — It’s been 80 years since the first Navajo Code Talkers joined the Marines, transmitting messages using a code based on their then-unwritten native language to confound Japanese military cryptologists during World War II — and Thomas H. Begay, one of the last living members of the group, still remembers the struggle.