Fallen Code Talker commemorated

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly has ordered the Navajo Nation flag be flown at half-staff in honor of former Navajo Nation Vice President and Navajo Code Talker Frank Chee Willeto who died on Saturday, June 23, 2012. The Navajo Nation flag has been order to fly at half-staff from June 25 through sundown on Thursday.

"I am saddened that we lost Frank Chee Willeto. His 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," President Shelly said.

Willeto. 87, passed away early Saturday morning in his home in Pueblo Pintado, N.M. He was born on June 6, 1925 in Crownpoint, N.M.

Willeto was vice president of the Navajo Nation under the Milton Bluehouse administration.

Willeto's career of public service began when he enlisted with the U.S. Marines 6th Division in 1944 where he completed Code Talker training classes. He then served in the Pacific Theater in Saipan and Okinawa.

After World War II, he returned back the reservation and began working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs roads department from 1946 to 1974.

In 1974, Code Talker Willeto was elected as a tribal Councilman and served his people in that role until 1986 when he was elected president of Pueblo Pintado Chapter.

Willeto also served on many boards throughout his career and was also a Navajo Nation Supreme Court Justice.

For his service as a Navajo Code Talker, Willeto received the Congressional Silver Medal in 2001.

"Mr. Willeto never stopped trying to make the Navajo Nation better. His presence and his leadership will be greatly missed," President Shelly said.

Funeral services are pending.

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