With the passing of Mr. Alfred Newman, there are eight surviving Navajo Code Talkers out of approximately 400.
The exact number is still unknown, but it is closer to 400 than 420 or higher. Several people ask me for lists or why there is no official list available. As a historian and researcher and as the daughter of a Code Talker (Carl Gorman) whose family was very involved in the early days of the Navajo Code Talkers Association and the early recognition including the first national recognition, as well as the 2001 national Congressional recognition, here is my best response.
The total numbers of Navajo Code Talkers have never been verified. There has never been an official listing available by the Marine Corps. It has not been for lack of sincere trying. Twice the Marine Corps, upon request from U.S. Senators involved in the bills for those recognitions, has produced partial listings for the 1981/82 national honors and then again in 2001 with the Gold and Silver Congressional medal awards. They have acknowledged that no formal list exists because the Navajo Communication School Records have not been available for review. Navajo marines training as Code Talkers had to pass this training course to become a recognized Code Talker and receive the MOS (military occupation specialty) number 642. There were numbers of men who did not pass the training as indicated by some historical documents as well as many more who did pass and went on to serve in the Pacific. There were also men toward the end of the war who trained and passed as Code Talkers, but because the war ended before they entered the Pacific, did not use it in combat. Some used it in consolidation efforts on many of the islands and during the Occupation of Japan. Some did not.
The records from the Navajo Communications training during the war has not yet surfaced during years of researchers looking for it. Sometimes looking for documents can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. For example, in the 1990s, one hundred ten documents that shed incredible light on the beginning of the program and the pilot group - the First Twenty-nine - were discovered in the General Correspondence file for Commandant Holcomb. Also, sometimes “after-action reports” appear in divisional records that mention Code Talkers, but you have to sift thru thousands of papers to find it. The historical material quite frankly is scattered in numerous archives throughout the country. Research has really just begun and there are many historical questions yet to be answered.