|Navajo Code Talker George Smith died Oct. 30 at the age of 90. Submitted photo|
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - Last week, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly commemorated the life of Navajo Code Talker George Smith, 90, who passed away Oct. 30 at Gallup Indian Medical Center.
As a tribute to Code Talker Smith's service, President Shelly ordered the Navajo Nation Flag to be flown at half-staff from Oct. 31 through sundown Nov. 4.
"This news has saddened me. Our Navajo Code Talkers have been real life heroes to generations of Navajo people. They have brought pride to our Navajo people in so many ways. The Nation's prayers and thoughts are with the family at this time as they mourn the passing of a great family man who served his country and protected his people," Shelly said.
Smith was born on June 15, 1922 in Mariano Lake, NM. He attended school at Crownpoint, Fort Wingate and eventually earned his diesel mechanic credentials in Chicago, Ill.
Smith enlisted with the U.S. Marines in 1943 and was trained as a Navajo Code Talker. He achieved the rank of Corporal while serving in World War II in the Pacific Theater. He fought in battles at Siapan, Tinian and Ryukyu Islands and served in places such as Okinawa, Hawaii and Japan.
He served as a Code Talker with his brother Albert Smith.
After serving his country, he began work at Fort Wingate Army Depot as a destroyer of old ammunition. He then began work as a mechanic at Fort Wingate Trading Post, working for Paul Merrill. His career eventually led him to Fort Defiance where he was a shop foreman. He eventually finished his career in Shiprock working for the Navajo Engineering Construction Authority as a heavy equipment mechanic.
"Code Talker Smith led an honorable life. He served his country, then provided for his family," President Shelly said.
Smith is preceded in death by Redd and Betsy Dawoola Smith, parents; Johanna Smith, stepmother; Sherman Pinto, brother; Mary Christine Begay, sister; and Dorothy Jarmillio, sister.
Smith is survived by brothers Albert Smith of Gallup, Donald Smith of Blue Water, NM, Leonard Smith of Sundance, NM, Phillip Smith of Kayenta, Ariz., sisters; Yvonne Denetclaw of Fruitland, New Mex., Florence Dick of Iyanbito, NM, Phyllis King of Iyanbito, NM, Diane Smith of Sundance, NM, sons Raymond Smith of Farmington, NM, Gilbert A. Smith Sr. of Sundance, NM, Irvin E. Smith of Sundance, NM, daughters; Patsy A. Tommy of Sundance, NM, Julie A. Livingston of Sundance, NM, and Mary Ann Smith of Sundance, NM. He also is survived by more than 20 grandchildren and more than 31 great-grandchildren.
Funeral services took place Nov. 3 at Rollie Mortuary in Gallup.