Home News Marine veteran and Navajo Talker dies in Phoenix

Marine veteran and Navajo Talker dies in Phoenix


Navajo Code Talker Arcenio Smiley

FARMINGTON — Navajo Code Talker Arcenio Smiley died Wednesday in Phoenix, according to a press release from the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President.

Smiley was born Nov. 2, 1925, in Toadlena to Mary Natoni Smiley and Sam Smiley. His clans were Tse’ Naabilnii born for Hona’gha’ahnii. A funeral service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at the Newcomb Assembly of God Church.

Smiley enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1944 and was honorably discharged as a corporal in 1946. During that time, he served as a code talker and shore party man. Between April 1945 and July 1946, Smiley was stationed in the Pacific, according to the press release.

Smiley received a Good Conduct Medal and the Congressional Silver Medal as recognition for his service as a code talker.

“Our grandfather was a great man who was very proud of his heritage and service to his country,” his grandchildren stated in the press release. “He will be missed by all, as a great warrior who is on his journey back home.”

After leaving the military, Smiley worked for the Navajo Service Warehouse from 1949 until 1951, the Gallup Navajo Clinic from 1951 until 1953 and the Gallup Indian Medical Center’s Office of Environmental Health. He retired from the office of environmental health in 1981 after working there for 30 years, according to the press release.

President Russell Begaye praised Smiley’s service as a code talker in the press release.

Begaye said the code talkers are “loved and honored, not just on the Navajo Nation, but nationally and internationally.”

In the press release, he urged young Navajos to take the time to thank and speak to the code talkers.

Vice President Jonathan Nez said in the press release that code talkers are “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,” Nez said.


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