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These two WWII veterans were heroes, among the last of their kind

by Linnea Crowther

Fleming Begaye and Robert Maxwell were part of the Greatest Generation and among the last of their kind of heroes.

Two men who were among the last of their kind of heroes died recently. Members of the Greatest Generation, their heroic actions during World War II helped the Allies win the war.

Fleming Begaye Sr., 97, was one of the last of the Code Talkers, the Native Americans who baffled the enemy with their indecipherable codes based on their languages. Though many Native American languages were used in the program, Navajo was the most famous —  and is the language that Begaye, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, spoke. Begaye fought in the Pacific where he survived the devastating Battle of Tarawa. Read his full obituary at AZCentral.


Robert Maxwell, 98, was a U.S. Army communications specialist who fell on a grenade to protect his fellow soldiers from its blast. Against all odds, Maxwell survived the explosion, refusing help from the men he had saved until the battle was over. He was later honored with the Congressional Medal of Honor for his valor in wartime, and also received Silver Stars for his service. Read his full obituary in the New York Times. 

World War II is fading into distant memory —  it’s been more than 75 years since Begaye and Maxwell set out to fight for their country —  and the war’s heroes will soon be gone. Begaye’s death leaves just seven Code Talkers alive, according to the Navajo Nation. And with Maxwell’s death, there are only three WWII Congressional Medal of Honor recipients still living. 

We’ll keep telling their stories until the last hero is left —  and after. It’s how we learn the lessons of the war and keep their memories alive.

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