Code Talker Albert Smith passes at 88
By Alastair Lee Bitsoi
WINDOW ROCK, April 18, 2013
A nother Navajo Code Talker has departed this world.
Navajo Code Talker Albert Smith, 88, has died, according to his family. Smith was born on Dec. 13, 1924 and was Salt People Clan, born for Black Streak Wood People Clan.
He enlisted on April 1, 1943 at the age of 15. He served with the 4th Division Battalion, 23rd regiment during World War II. He served in the Marshall Islands, Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima.
Smith was the brother of Navajo Code Talker George Smith, who died in the fall of 2012. The brothers joined the military together.
After serving in the military, Smith attained a bachelor's of education degree from Eastern New Mexico University and worked with the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Education Department as a teacher for 38 years before retiring.
Smith was a member of the Navajo Code Talker Association and Baahaali Veterans Association, said Emery Chee, secretary/treasure for the association.
"He was a very quiet person with a lot of knowledge," Chee said. "He's always been very straight with everyone and (had) knowledge of how to survive through good and bad times."
According to Council Delegate Charles Damon, Smith had one daughter, Alberta S. Holman, who works for the Public Health Services in Gallup, and family members located in the Baahaali and Church Rock chapters.
Damon, who announced the passing of Smith during the spring session of the Navajo Nation Council to his colleagues on Wednesday, said he was honored to have a Code Talker as a constituent in his community.
"We're very proud of him being from our chapter and all the people that are there had great respect for him," Damon said.
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly added that Code Talkers like Smith have played a dear role in the history and culture of the Navajo people: "The Navajo Nation mourns the loss of Code Talker Albert Smith. We are forever grateful for his service to the United States and the Navajo Nation."
Smith is survived by his daughter, Alberta Holman; brothers, George Smith of Mariano Lake, N.M., Donald Smith of Bluewater, N.M., Leonard Smith of Sundance, and Phillip Lee Smith of Monument Valley, Utah; sisters, Yvonne Denetclaw of Fruitland, N.M., Florence Dick of Iyanbito, N.M., Phyllis King of Iyanbito, and Diane Smith of Sundance; and two grandchildren.
Smith was preceded in death by his wife, Helen Smith, of Laguna, N.M; parents, Red and Betsy Dawoola Smith; stepmother Johanna Smith; brothers Sherman Pinto, Ray Smith, George Smith; sisters Mary Christine Begay and Dorothy Jaramillo.
The family is meeting today at 4 p.m. at Baahaali Chapter for Smith.