On June 23, the Navajo Nation and Indian country received the news that Frank Chee Willeto, 87, former Navajo Nation vice president and Navajo Code Talker walked on at his home in Pueblo Pintado, New Mexico.
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly requested the Nation flag to fly at half staff from June 25 to sundown June 28.
“I am saddened that we lost Frank Chee Willeto. He served his country and returned home and served his people in many ways. His life is an example of how to help people continuously until his last days. The Navajo Nation’s prayers and condolences are with the family of Mr. Willeto,” Shelly said in a Navajo Nation press release.
Willeto was born on June 6, 1925 in Crownpoint, New Mexico and enlisted in the U.S. Marines 6thDivision in 1944. After completing Code Talker training Willeto served in the Pacific Theater in Saipan and Okinawa. Following World War II, he returned to the Navajo Nation where he worked with the Bureau of Indian Affairs roads department from 1946 to 1974 according to the release. He was then elected as a tribal councilman in 1974, serving in that capacity until 1986 when he was elected president of the Pueblo Pintado Chapter. His vice presidency was under the Milton Bluehouse administration. He also sat on many boards and was a Navajo Nation Supreme Court Justice.
Willeto received the Congressional Silver Medal in 2001 for his service as a Navajo Code Talker.
“Mr. Willeto never stopped trying to make the Navajo Nation better. His presence and his leadership will be greatly missed,” Shelly said in the release.
According to the Facebook page of Our Navajo Code Talkers memorial services for Willeto will be June 28 at 11 a.m. in the Tse Yi Gai High School Auditorium in Pueblo Pintado, New Mexico, approximately 35 miles east of Crownpoint along County Road 57. A reception will follow the service near the high school. Burial services will be Friday, June 29 at 1 p.m. at the Santa Fe National Cemetery, Santa Fe, New Mexico. If you have any questions you can call (928) 688-5202 .