Published June 4, 2016
WINDOW ROCK – NAVAJO NATION – Navajo Code Talker Arcenio Smiley passed on to the spirit world the morning of June 01, 2016, in Phoenix, Arizona. His granddaughter delivered the sad news to the Office of the President and Vice President the morning of June 02, 2016. His death came on the eve of the 92nd anniversary of the United States Congress granting citizenship to all Native Americans.
Arcenio was born in Toadlena, New Mexico to the late Mary Natoni Smiley and Sam Smiley. Smiley was Tse’ Naabilnii (Sleep Rock People), born for Hona’gha’ahnii (One-Walks-Around). His maternal grandfather’s are Naakaii Dine’e’ (Mexican) and paternal grandfather’s are Hashtl’ishnii (Mud).
Arcenio Smiley served with distinction in the United States Marine Corp from 1944 to 1946, where he was Honorably Discharged as a Corporal. His special qualifications include Code Talker and Shore Party Man. He served in the Pacific from April 1945 to July 1946. On March 15, 1944, he earned the marksman level qualification with the rifle. Smiley received a Good Conduct Medal and the Congressional Silver Medal for his service as a Navajo Code Talker.
Arcenio Smiley worked for the Navajo Service Warehouse (1949-1951), Gallup Navajo Clinic (1951-1953), and the Gallup Indian Medical Center’s Office of Environmental Health where he retired after 30 years of service in 1981.
“Our grandfather was a great man who was very proud of his heritage and service to his country,” his grandchildren said. “He will be missed by all, as great warrior who is on his journey back home.”
“Navajo Nation Code Talkers were defending and serving the U.S. long before we were even granted citizenship, and it was because of the many voices like Code Talker Smiley who helped win World War II,” stated President Begaye.
Navajo Nation President Begaye also stated, “Our Navajo Nation Code Talkers are loved and honored, not just on the Navajo Nation, but nationally and internationally. Unfortunately, we are continuing to loose them to old age. I encourage our young Navajos, if you have not had the time to thank and/or talk to these distinguished men of honor, do so now.”
“As national treasures that embodied true courage, integrity and bravery, Code Talker Smiley used his traditional culture and intelligence on many levels to ultimately serve, defend and save our country,” stated Vice President Jonathan Nez.
“Code Talker Smiley, one of our beloved and most treasured iconic figures will never be forgotten,” said President Begaye.
Funeral Services will be held Monday, June 6, 2016, at 10 a.m. in Newcomb, NM at the Newcomb Assembly of God Church.
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