FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation is flying flags at half-staff through sundown Sunday after the death of Code Talker George Smith, 90, on Wednesday at Gallup Indian Medical Center.

Smith, of Sundance, and his fellow Navajo Code Talkers have been honored for their service in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

"Every Code Talker that we have, we cherish them," said Erny Zah, communications director for the Navajo Nation Office of the President. "They're our real life-heroes. For us to see them in a light where they're praised for their actions, it brings a certain amount of pride and dignity to our people."

Smith, however, did not speak about his service, said his daughter, Julie Livingston, of Sundance.

"I'm a veterans' advocate," she said. "My brother (Raymond Smith) served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. (My father) and my brother they never boasted about their service. They just served their country."

Smith was born on June 15, 1922, in Mariano Lake, attended school at Crownpoint, Fort Wingate, and earned his diesel mechanic credentials in Chicago.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1943 and was trained as a Navajo Code Talker. The Code Talkers used the Navajo language to transmit tactical information during battles in the Pacific. He rose to the rank of corporal, taking part in the battles at Siapan, Tinian and Ryukyu Islands, and serving in Okinawa, Hawaii and Japan. He received the Victory Medal as well as the Congressional Silver Medal for his role as a Code Talker.


His brother, Albert Smith, also served in the Marine Corps as a Code Talker.

After the war Smith built up a reputation as a skilled and dedicated mechanic.

At Fort Wingate Army Depot he worked destroying old ammunition, and began work as a mechanic at Fort Wingate Trading Post.

He later moved to Fort Defiance where he became a shop foreman and finished his career in Shiprock working for the Navajo Engineering Construction Authority as a heavy equipment mechanic before retiring to Sundance.

"He was a humble, generous man," said Livingston. "He was always smiling ... he was dedicated to his work. He helped anybody that came for car repair."

Funeral services are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at Rollies Mortuary in Gallup.

Smith was preceded in death by his wife, Rose Henry Smith, in 1959, his parents, Redd and Betsy Dawoola Smith, stepmother, Johanna Smith, brothers, Ray Smith and Sherman Pinto, and sisters Mary Christine Begay and Dorothy Jarmillio.

He is survived by his brothers Albert Smith of Gallup, Donald Smith of Blue Water, Leonard Smith of Sundance and Phillip Lee Smith of Kayenta, Ariz.; sisters Yvonne Denetclaw of Fruitland, Florence Dick and Phyllis King of Iyanbito, and Diane Smith of Sundance; sons Raymond Smith of Farmington, and Gilbert A. Smith Sr. and Irvin E. Smith of Sundance; daughters Patsy A. Tommy, Julie A. Livingston and Mary Ann Smith, all of Sundance. He also is survived by more than 20 grandchildren and more than 31 great-grandchildren.