Desert Hills Presbyterian Church welcomed Navajos and Code Talker from Leupp

By Steele Coddington | November 5, 2008

Navajo Code TalkerCAREFREE – Navajos from the Presbyterian Church in Leupp on the Navajo Reservation east of Flagstaff and the Desert Hills Presbyterian Church meet twice a year as sister churches. The mission outreach meeting last weekend at the Carefree Presbyterian Church featured sales of Navajo Jewelry and art works, history of the Navajos and instruction on how they make jewelry, rugs and tapestry.

A special treat this year was the introduction and honoring of Navajo Code Talker from Leupp, George Willie, who as a Code Talker participated in five Marine island assaults in the Pacific during World War II, including Guam, Ryuka, Iwo Jima, Saipan and Okinawa.
George, accompanied by his daughter Annabelle, treated a large enthusiastic crowd to the exploits of the Navajo Code Talkers in World War II. These unique Marines were all Navajos who were fluent in both English and Navajo and worked in two man teams in combat situations. The Japanese could not break messages using the alphabet of the Navajo language translated into code to call in air strikes, artillery barrages, troop movements, attacks and directions. The immense value was that with the Code Talkers information was immediate since the Navajo code was memorized and verbal, whereas regular Marine Corps code could take up to four hours to translate, often missing parts, then relayed to commanders. So if you needed an artillery strike now, it was needed immediately and the Navajo Code Talkers transmitted the need over radio and telephone lines securely and accurately as to coordinates, location and timing. It’s been established that without the Code Talkers, the Marines might never have taken Iwo Jima. In fact, many secret transmissions on the atomic bomb were coded using the Navajo code.

The Willie family is an all-American hero family with three generations of Marines, with George’s grandson (Annabelle’s son) Randall Smallcanyon now in the Corps. George’s son Bennie, died in Vietnam. The Code Talkers have received many military and civilian decorations, including the Civilian Distinguished Service Award, and President Reagan designated Aug. 14 as National Code Talkers Day. George was honored this Wednesday at the Cave Creek/Carefree Kiwanis at Harold’s and he will ride as a Grand Marshall in the Veteran’s Day Parade in Anthem this Saturday, Nov. 8 at 10 a.m

Photo: WWII Navajo Code Talker Marine George Willie being introduced at Desert Hills Presbyterian Church by his daughter Annabelle Smallcanyon.
Photo by Steele Coddington