Levi Ricker, Native News Network
WINDOW ROCK, ARIZONA – Navajo President Ben Shelly’s office announced the passing of Navajo Code Talker Milton Gishal, who died on June 8 in Farmington, New Mexico. Mr. Gishal was 93.
The Navajo Nation Flag will remain at half staff.
He is the second Navajo Code Talker to die within the past week. Navajo Code Talker King Fowler passed away on June 7. President Shelly ordered the Navajo Nation Flag to be flown at half staff until sundown June 18 to honor the memory of both Navajo heroes.
Born on December 15, 1919 in Jeddito, Arizona, Gishal joined the US Marine Corps during World War II, where he served as a Navajo Code Talker. He took part in the Battle Iwo Jima.
After the war, Gishal became a rancher, farmer, railroad worker, carpenter and even a Navajo Councilman. He was also a medicine man fo the Native American Church.
Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated June 12 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Holbrook.
Survivors include his wife of 67 years, Ruby, 10 children, Pete Gishal, Mary Robertson, Anita Haskie, Stacey Gishal, Juanita Roanhorse, Milton Gishal Jr., Wil Gishal, Alton Bedonie, Marie Bahe and MaryLou Norris, 34 grandchildren; 47 great grandchildren; and one great great grandchild.
“It’s a sad week for our Navajo people knowing that we lost two more of our modern day heroes. The Navajo Nation’s prayers and condolences are with both families. Our Navajo Code Talkers are the sources of great pride for our people. There is a certain pride that our Code Talkers created because they used our language to defeat the Japanese in World War II. We will forever in indebted to the services of our Navajo Code Talkers,”
President Shelly said.
Less than 60 Navajo Code Talkers are estimated to still be living with Code Talker Chester Nez being the only one of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers.
Navajo Code Talkers served in the US Marines in World War II in the Pacific Theater. The Navajo language, which some linguist say is one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn, was encoded and used to communicate during battle. The Navajo code was used in every major engagement in the Pacific Theater from 1942 through 1945.
“If it wasn’t for our language and our Code Talkers, we might not be here right now. Our people have provided a great service to the people of the United States. We are proud of them,”
President Shelly said.