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Navajo Code Talker, ex-Nation leader dies

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. -- The Navajo Nation has announced that Frank Chee Willeto, a Navajo Code Talker and former Navajo Nation vice president, has died. He was 87.

Officials said Willeto died Saturday in his home in Pueblo Pintado, N.M.

The Crownpoint, N.M.-born Willeto enlisted with the U.S. Marines 6th Division in 1944, where he completed Code Talker training classes. He then served in the Pacific Theater in Saipan and Okinawa.

After World War II, he returned to the reservation and began working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs roads department from 1946 to 1974.

He also served as vice president of the Navajo Nation under the Milton Bluehouse administration.

Willeto received the Congressional Silver Medal in 2001 for his role as a Code Talker.

Funeral services are pending.

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