Last call:Tuba City mourns loss of Officer Joe Salt

TUBA CITY—Flags are flying at half-mast across the Navajo Nation in farewell to one of its finest: Navajo Nation Police Officer Joe Salt. Salt, originally from Red Lake, was more than just a police officer. He was also husband, father, grandfather, friend. The ex-Marine who dedicated his life to protecting not only his family, but his Nation and his Country, lost a two-year battle with cancer on Christmas Day.

Officer Salt served the Navajo Nation for 16 years, working in the Tuba City and Chinle district as well as the Pinon substation and Kaibeto area. “A lot of people knew him,” Officer Ron Brown commented. Brown, who serves as public information officer for the Tuba City Police Department, said that Salt had wanted the members of the last team he’d worked with to serve as pallbearers for his funeral. They are Rowland Dash, Monica Butler, Tiffany Dodson, Darrell Curley, Phillip Bedonie and Calvin Gishie.

“I used to room with him [Salt] over at the barracks,” Gishie said. “He was really close to his family and to his daughters.”

Salt, Gishie remembers, was a very athletic man who was always running. “He could run marathons. He loved basketball, and he also put together a football team together in the Tuba City and Red Lake districts.” Gishie paused to remember his friend. “Joe was my neighbor from Pinon; his wife Rachel is from that area. We were neighbors.”

Gishie added that Salt was once a bullrider. “He was a very active man, and a popular police officer.”

Services for Salt were performed at the Church of the Latter Day Saints in Tuba City; afterwards a burial procession carried Salt back home to Red Lake, where he was buried near his family’s homesite. Captain Bobby Etsitty joined with Captain Steve Nelson, the Assistant Chief of Police of the Navajo Nation, in speaking in Salt’s memory. A family member sang a song in Salt’s honor.

Jesse McQuire, a noted percussionist, performed taps for Salt and a flag-folding ceremony included a 21-gun salute, performed by 14 Marines and 7 members of the Navajo Nation Rifle Team. Etsitty presented the Navajo Nation Flag to the family. The American flag was presented by members of the Marine Corp. A helicopter flyover also honored the brave officer.

Brown expressed thanks to the Arizona Department of Transportation for their assistance in smoothing Salt’s last journey to the area he grew up in, and also to the Marine Corp., Department of Public Services and Classic Helicopters.

Finally, dispatch officer Bernadine Dodson stepped forward to present the last call. “Have a good day, Officer Joe Salt. Our prayers are with you. 10-10.”

Donations to assist the family can be made at any Wells Fargo branch to Tuba City account number 0631214376.

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