Navajo Nation loses another Code Talker at age 90

By Noel Smith
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, November 1, 2012

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(Times Archive photo - Paul Natonabah)

Navajo Code Talker George Smith stands during an honor song by Native American flutist Robert Tree Cody during ceremonies marking National Navajo Code Talker Day on Aug. 14, 2008, at Veterans Memorial Park in Window Rock.

T he Navajo Nation has lost another Code Talker.

George Smith, 90, of Sundance, N.M., died Tuesday at Gallup Indian Medical Center in Gallup, according to a news release from the Office of President and Vice President.

Smith enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943 and was trained as a code talker.

He achieved the rank of corporal while serving in the Pacific Theater during World War II and fought in the battles of Saipan, Tinian, and Ryukyu Islands and served in Hawaii, Japan and Okinawa.

He served as a Code Talker with his brother Albert Smith.

He was a member of the Navajo Code Talkers Association and the Church Rock Veterans Organization.

Smith was born June 15, 1922 in Mariano Lake, N.M. and attended school at Crownpoint and Fort Wingate, N.M.

He earned his diesel mechanic credentials in Chicago.

After completing his service in the Marines, Smith worked at the Fort Wingate Army Depot as destroyer of old ammunition then as a mechanic at the Fort Wingate Trading Post.

His career led him to Fort Defiance where he was a shop foreman. He eventually finished his career as a heavy equipment mechanic at Navajo Engineering Construction Authority in Shiprock.

Smith is survived by his sons, Raymond Smith of Farmington, Gilbert A. Smith Sr. of Sundance, and Irvin E. Smith of Sundance; daughters, Patsy A. Tommy of Sundance, Julie A. Livingston of Sundance, and Mary Ann Smith of Sundance; brothers, Albert Smith of Gallup, Donald Smith of Bluewater, N.M., Leonard Smith of Sundance, and Phillip Lee Smith of Kayenta, Ariz.; sisters, Yvonne Denetclaw of Fruitland, N.M., Florence Dick of Iyanbito, N.M., Phyllis King of Iyanbito, and Diane Smith of Sundance; and more than 20 grandchildren and more than 30 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Rose Henry Smith; parents, Redd and Betsy Dawoola Smith; stepmother Johanna Smith; brother Sherman Pinto and Ray Smith; sisters Mary Christine Begay and Dorothy Jarmillio.

President Ben Shelly on Wednesday called for flags on the reservation to be flown at half-staff until Sunday.

"This news has saddened me. Our Navajo Code Talkers have been real life heroes to generations of Navajo people. They have brought pride to our Navajo people in so many ways. The Nation's prayers and thoughts are with the family at this time as they mourn the passing of a great family man who served his country and protected his people," Shelly said.

The funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday in Gallup at Rollie Mortuary. Burial will follow after the service at Rehoboth Cemetery in Rehoboth, N.M.

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