Navajo sailor, code talkers honored in ceremony
SAN DIEGO, C.A. - When Operations Specialist Seaman Michael Benally recites the Sailor's Creed, he honors a unique set of individuals who have gone before him "to defend freedom and democracy around the world."
Born on the Navajo Nation Reservation in St. Michaels, Arizona, Benally is a full-blooded member of a tribe that takes pride in having served its nation faithfully. One of the most notable contributions of the Navajo Nation was the Code Talkers of World War II.
In March 2006, Benally was fortunate enough to meet eight veteran Code Talkers. While deployed with Tactical Air Control Squadron (VTC) 12 on board USS Essex (LHD 6), he was invited to accompany them to the 61st Commemoration of the Battle of Iwo Jima. Benally said of the experience, "It filled me with pride to know how highly respected they are. They deserve it because they were really dedicated and sacrificed a lot."
On Nov. 17, in observance of National American Indian Heritage Month, Benally gave a presentation on the Navajo culture to his squadron-mates. The entire squadron put together an enormous Thanksgiving Day themed potluck meal while Benally discussed Navajo religious ceremonies, providing those in attendance with a glimpse into Native American life that was greatly appreciated by all. He also prepared a traditional Navajo meal of frybread and beans that was served as part of the potluck luncheon. The event celebrated the diversity within the command and reemphasized the significant contributions of our multi-cultural society to our great nation.