Willeto shared his experiences while serving in the military. He also urged Congress to support funding for housing and health care for veterans.
Born and raised in Crownpoint, N.M., Willeto enlisted in the U.S. Marines 6th Division in January 1944. Following eight weeks of Navajo Code Talker training, he served in the Pacific Theater in the Saipan and Okinawa campaigns.
Upon returning from World War II, Willeto worked from 1946 to 1974 for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, with the roads department, and then with the U.S. Department of Education.
In 1974, Willeto was elected as a Navajo tribal councilman and served in this role until 1986 when he was elected president of Pueblo Pintado Chapter. Willetto was later appointed to serve as a judge on the Navajo Supreme Judicial Council. From August 1997 to January 1998, he was appointed vice president of the Navajo Nation. Willeto is a recipient of the Congressional Silver Medal.
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly has ordered the Navajo Nation flag to be flown at half-staff from June 25 through June 28.
Funeral service for Willeto will take place at 11 a.m. MDT, Thursday, June 28 at Tse Yi Gai High School in Pueblo Pintado, N.M. A reception will follow at the Pueblo Pintado Boarding School. Burial will take place at 1 p.m. MDT, Friday, June 29 in the Santa Fe National Cemetery, Santa Fe, N.M.
For monetary donations, contact Cope Memorial Chapel funeral director Nancy Lee at 505.722.6671. For food donations, contact Marcella at 505.786.4020 or by cell at 505.809.6353.