#VeteranOfTheDay George B. Willie Sr.


Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Marine Corps Veteran George B. Willie Sr.

George enlisted with the U.S. Marine Corps as a 17-year-old in 1943. Like many of his Navajo Code Talker comrades he lied to recruiters, claiming he was 20-years-old, while attending a school at Fort Wingate. Once enlisted, Willie learned what he and many other Navajo men would become – the Navajo Code Talkers. 

Marines from the Navajo tribe began to send secure voice transmissions based on their native language. Since only a small group of Americans spoke Navajo, it was impossible for the enemy to gain intelligence from any intercepted messages. Additionally, the Navajo Code Talkers proved faster and more accurate than Morse Code or any machine. The program was highly classified for 25 years and, to this day, there’s no indication any intercepted Navajo code was successfully deciphered.

From 1943 and 1945, Willie, who is Tó Dích’iínii (Bitter Water) and born for Tábaahá (Near The Water Edge), served in the Marine Corps as a private with the Second Marine Division, 10th Battalion. He served in the served in the Battle of Okinawa, delivering and receiving coded messages using the Navajo language.

George passed away on Dec. 5, 2017. We honor his service.

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? You’re in luck! VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to newmedia@va.gov with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.


Melissa Heintz

Melissa Heintz joined the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2015 and currently works as the National Veterans Day Coordinator, National Veterans Outreach. She grew up on an Army base in Japan before her family relocated to Hawaii. She holds a degree in Journalism/Mass Communications and Spanish from Seattle University. Melissa has served as a public affairs specialist with Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In December 2015, Melissa commissioned in the Air National Guard where she serves as a public affairs officer with the 113th Wing, D.C. Air National Guard.