“I will do my best as your president,” MacDonald said while addressing his fellow comrades and their families upon accepting the position. “I am committed and dedicated to establishing the National Navajo Code Talkers Museum and Veterans Center…I need your help.”
MacDonald, served in the 6th Marine Division of the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II from 1944-46 in the South Pacific and North China. He was discharged as a Corporal in October 1946 and returned to Teecnospos, Arizona. MacDonald is a graduate of Bacone High School, with a social science degree from Bacone Junior College, and an electrical engineering degree from the University of Oklahoma.
MacDonald used his education as a project manager of the Hughes Technical Staff for the Hughes Aircraft Company, which manufactured the Polaris Guidance System.
He was also Chairman of the Navajo Nation for an unprecedented four terms in 1971-83 and 1987-91. Among his accomplishments are:
- Co-founder of the Council of Energy Resource Tribes (CERT), National Tribal Chairman Association, American Indian National Bank and the Native American Prep School
- Recipient of the Congressional Silver Medal
- University of Oklahoma Engineering Hall of Fame
- Special commendation by President Richard M. Nixon
- The Distinguished Service Award by the U.S. Marine Corps League
- TIME magazine’s 1974 one of 200 “Rising Leaders of America”
- The Distinguished Service citation from the University of Oklahoma.
- Appointed by U.S. Presidents and state governors to several national task forces and commissions.
- Honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Southern Utah in Cedar City, Utah and the College of Ganado in Ganado, Arizona.
Even at 83 MacDonald continues to give lectures across the nation and resides in Tuba City, Arizona on the Navajo Nation with his wife Wanda. They have five kids and seven grandchildren.