Navajo Code Talker Thomas H. Begay to speak at event in Tucumcari on Nov. 2 - Albuquerque Journal

Navajo Code Talker Thomas H. Begay to speak at event in Tucumcari on Nov. 2

Navajo Code Talker Thomas H. Begay salutes during the national anthem at the Arizona State Navajo Code Talkers Day celebration on Aug. 14, 2022. Begay will be the guest of honor at an event sponsored by Mesalands Community College on Nov. 2. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

November is the beginning of Native American Heritage Month.

Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari is sponsoring an event with Thomas H. Begay from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Nov. 2, at Tucumcari High School’s Rattler Gymnasium, 1101 S. 7th St., in Tucumcari.

Begay is one of three living Navajo Code Talkers.

He is slated to tell stories of his service as a Marine in World War II and an Army soldier during the Korean War.

Begay was born in a hogan in a remote area near Two Wells in 1927.

After attending boarding school in Fort Defiance, he persuaded a Marine Corps recruiter to allow him to enlist when he was about 16 years old.

Begay made it through the Code Talker training course, and was assigned to the Signal Company for the 5th Marine Division.

At 18, Begay found himself on the front lines in Iwo Jima.

Hey was discharged from the Marines in 1946, but joined the Army a year later, where he worked as a communications specialist again, but also qualified as a paratrooper. With the Army, he again experienced intense combat with the 7th Infantry Division in Korea, including at the Chosin Reservoir in late 1950. His experiences in Korea persuaded him to finally leave the military in 1953.

The college invites the community to the event, as more than 900 students from across the state will be in attendance.

“Mesalands College is excited to work with our community and state to host this once-in-a-lifetime event, November is Native American Heritage Month, and we are honored to celebrate the unique cultural perspective of a New Mexico Navajo,” Mesalands officials said in a statement.

There will also be a drawing for authentic Navajo jewelry with proceeds benefiting Begay, so he can continue his volunteer work traveling and sharing his story with the world.

If you are interested purchasing $1 tickets for the drawing, please contact Maria Haase at 575-461-6615 or Judy Ross at 505-507-3825.

Congresswoman Teresa Leger-Fernandez will also be giving a short address following Begay’s presentation.

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