SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Navajo man who helped stump the Japanese during World War II using a code based on his native language has died in Utah. The Salt Lake Tribune reports  that 92-year-old Ernest Yazhe died of renal failure in suburban Salt Lake City on Tuesday.

Yazhe was born in Naschitti, New Mexico, in 1923. He joined the U.S. Marines when he was 19 years old and became one of the hundreds of code talkers who played a vital combat role. Yazhe's family says he served in Guam and Okinawa, transmitting battlefield messages in an unbreakable Navajo-based radio code.

After the Japanese surrender, he helped repatriate Japanese prisoners of war in China. Yazhe was discharged in 1946 and moved to Utah, where he worked for Kennecott Utah Copper. His survivors include six children and six siblings.