Third Code Talker Dies in Two Weeks Jun 4, 2009 Navajo Nation Council delegate says of World War II heroes ‘they don’t go alone.’ Willie Kesoli Begay is the third member of the legendary Navajo Code Talkers to die within two weeks, the Gallup Independent reported. Begay died Monday in Polacca, Ariz., the Independent said. “It’s really unfortunate. I though about what happened, and that’s the third Code Talker within two weeks, so then I thought about stories that people talked about a long time ago. When someone passes away, they don’t go alone,” Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amos F. Johnson told the Independent. Johnson called Begay’s death a loss for the Navajo Nation, the paper reported. “I wish the rest of the world and everyone could learn the history of their role and their time spent in the Pacific,” Johnson told the Independent. Begay, who was born in Forest Lake, Ariz., died of cancer at the age of 88, according to The Associated Press. He worked at the Pinon Trading Post from 1946 until his retirement in 1984 and is survived by his wife and five children, the AP said. Code Talker John Brown died May 20 at his home in Crystal, N.M., at the age of 88, and Thomas Claw died May 26 at age 87 at the veterans’ hospital in Prescott, Ariz. Funeral services for Begay were to be held Friday in Forest Lake, the AP said. Goodbye to Forest Lake hero Few people knew of code talker Willie Kescoli Begay's storied past To the rest of the world, he was a war hero, but in the tiny mountain hamlet he called home, Willie Kescoli Begay was Cheii Willie: the guy who loved "Matlock" reruns, commodity cheese and Juicy Fruit chewing gum. He was a Navajo Code Talker who witnessed the iconic flag-raising at Iwo Jima, but the only vestige of his military past was the crisp pleat he ironed into his trousers every day. Begay's large, close-knit family laid the 88-year-old ex-Marine to rest Friday in a windswept family plot atop Black Mesa. A herd of sheep - animals Begay used to call his "honeys" - trotted past, bleating as though in tribute as Pastor Jimmie Little prepared to bless the grave. In spite of the high winds, a Marine honor guard managed to crisply fold the flag that had draped Begay's casket and present it to his widow, Alice Natonie Begay. While some code talkers opted to continue their educations and seek a life of public service after they returned from World War II, Begay had resumed the quiet life he enjoyed before the war. He took a job at the Pińon Mercantile, which he held from 1946 until his retirement in 1982, ran a herd of sheep, and watched his many children grow up. He had three with his first wife, Sarah Benally, Nelson, Dennison and the late Edison Begay; and one with his second wife, Alice, Kristy Begay. Some time during his life he also fathered four others: Irene Nez, Darlene Chee, Rose Begay and Jimmy Begay. He became a loving father to Alice's four children from a previous marriage. But sobbing loudest at Begay's funeral were his numerous grandkids. "His biggest concern was for the grandchildren," recalled Sybil White, delivering the eulogy at the tidy white Baptist church on Begay's sister's land high on Black Mesa. "If they even sneezed he would say, 'Here, give them some Tylenol!'" He always kept soda pop and bags of chips in his house in case a grandchild stopped by, she said. The Navajo Nation is deeply saddened by the loss of another treasured Navajo Code Talker who sacrificed so much for his people and his country. - Lawrence T. Morgan, Speaker of the Navajo Nation Council WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - Navajo Nation Council Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan offers his sincere condolences on behalf of the Navajo Nation Council to the family of Navajo Code Talker, Willie Kescoli Begay, of Forest Lake, AZ. “The Navajo Nation is deeply saddened by the loss of another treasured Navajo Code Talker who sacrificed so much for his people and his country,” Speaker Morgan said. “I ask that we all take a moment to reflect on the significance of Mr. Begay’s, and all other Navajo Code Talkers’, contributions to the liberty and freedom that we all enjoy today.” “Our Navajo Code Talkers remind us that our Diné language has always been our strength and key to survival. I ask that you support and pray for the family of Willie Kescoli Begay.” Begay passed away Monday morning, June 1, 2009 at the Polacca IHS Hospital at the age of 88. He was born March 21, 1921 in Forest Lake. Begay is survived by his wife Alice Natonie Begay and his children Kristy K. Begay, Nelson K. Begay, and Dennison K. Begay. Willie Kescoli Begay was awarded the Congressional Silver Medal for his service as a Code Talker. Funeral services for Begay are scheduled for 10 a.m. on Friday, June 5, 2009 at the Forest Lake Bible Church. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Tse Bonito Mortuary. Willie Kescoli Begay is the third Navajo Code Talker to pass away in the past two weeks. Navajo Code Talkers John Brown, Jr. and Thomas Claw passed away on May 20, 2009 and May 26, 2009, respectively.
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