Navajo Code Talker Frank Chee Willeto Walks On Another member of American Indian and United States history is gone. 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 6th Division 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. SANTA FE – Funeral services for Navajo Code Talker Frank Chee Willeto, who died last Saturday will be held tomorrow, Thursday, June 28 at 11:00 am mdt at Tse Yi Gai High School in Pueblo Pintado, New Mexico. Mr. Willeto died at home in Pueblo Pintado at the age of 87. Born and raised in Crownpoint, New Mexico, Willeto enlisted in the US Marines 6th Division in January 1944. Following eight weeks of Navajo Code Talker training, he served in the Pacific Theater in the Saipan and Okinawa campaigns. Upon returning from World War II, Willeto worked from 1946 to 1974 for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, with the roads department, and then with the US Department of Education. In 1974, Willeto was elected as a Navajo tribal councilman and served in this role until 1986 when he was elected president of Pueblo Pintado Chapter. Willetto was later appointed to serve as a judge on the Navajo Supreme Judicial Council. From August 1997 to January 1998, he was appointed vice president of the Navajo Nation. Willeto is a recipient of the Congressional Silver Medal. Last year on November 16, 2011, Mr. Willeto was a panelist member on "The Way of the Warrior: Native Americans' Commitment to Country, Community, and Communication." The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hosted the event in honor of Veterans Day and National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly has ordered the Navajo Nation flag to be flown at half staff from June 25 through June 28. Frank Chee Willeto, former Code Talker and Navajo vice president dies WINDOW ROCK, AZ - Frank Chee Willeto, a Navajo Code Talker and former Navajo Nation vice president, has died, the Navajo Nation announced this week. He was 87. Officials said Willeto died Saturday in his home in Pueblo Pintado, N.M. Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly ordered on Monday the Navajo Nation flag be flown at half-staff in honor of Willeto. "(He) served his country and returned home and served his people in many ways," Shelly said in a statement. "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." In 1944, Willeto enlisted with the U.S. Marines 6th Division, where he took Code Talker training classes. He then served in the Pacific Theater in Saipan and Okinawa. He received the Congressional Silver Medal in 2001 for his role as a Navajo Code Talker. Willeto was born in Crownpoint, N.M. After World War II, he returned to the reservation and worked with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs roads department from 1946 to 1974. He was elected as a tribal councilman in 1974 and served until 1986, when he was elected president of the Pueblo Pintado chapter. He served as vice president of the Navajo Nation under the Milton Bluehouse administration.
Return to Native American Obituaries Page
Return to Native American Page