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Holy Road: Navajo code talker Jerry C. Begay Sr., 83

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Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. ordered flags on the Navajo Nation to fly at half-staff May 30 - June 3 to honor the late Navajo code talker Jerry C. Begay Sr., who passed away Memorial Day, May 26, in Albuquerque. He was 83.

''The late Jerry Claschee Begay Sr. was a Navajo code talker who served the United States of America and the Navajo Nation with courage, honor and distinction,'' Shirley said in his proclamation.

Shirley acknowledged Begay's honorable and distinguished service to the United States, for which he was awarded the Congressional Silver Medal in November 2001 and received the Purple Heart.

''The Navajo Nation unites and offers prayers for his family during this time of grief,'' he said.

Begay was born in Sheep Springs, N.M. At age 17, as a student at Fort Wingate High School, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.

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He became a code talker in the 2nd Marine Division, 297th Platoon. He participated in the invasion of the Japanese island of Tarawa during World War II.

Begay was honorably discharged in 1945.

Shortly after the war, he worked for Phelps Dodge in Morenci and retired in 1982. He then provided community service in the Navajo communities of Tsaile and Lukachukai.

Begay was the son of Clauschee Begay and Hasktlishnii Bist'i. He was of the Kinlichii'nii people, and born for Dzil tl'ahnii people.

He was married to Ella Sorrelman Begay of Lukachukai. He is survived by his children: Jerry C. Begay Jr., Daniel C. Begay, Priscilla Begay Coutu and Verna Begay Lopez. He is preceded in death by his daughter, Evangeline Begay Alvarez.

He was buried May 30 in Memorial Garden in Farmington, N.M.