Our country lost one of its true heroes, Sidney Bedoni, Navajo Code Talker, who passed away early Sunday morning, June 8, 2014, surrounded by family. The funeral service will be held on Monday, June 16, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, located at 205 W. Lee St. in Winslow. A viewing will be held from 9 to 11 a.m., followed by the service at 11 a.m. The burial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 17, at National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, located at 23029 North Cave Creek Road in Phoenix.
Sidney was born on March 10, 1923, in Navajo Mountain, Utah. He is from the Salt and Bitterwater clans.
At the age 6, he had been picked up by the U.S. government, along with other Navajo children, to attend boarding school in Tuba City. His father and mother taught him to speak Navajo. His mother passed away early on in Sidney’s life while giving birth to his sister. He loved and missed his mother very much. He always remembered the values she taught him and the support from his father to head to war.
Sidney heard about what was going on in the war while in boarding school and had a desire to serve. Recruiters came to Tuba City asking for young men to serve. He was 16 years old when he enlisted, and, of course, he had to adjust his age as he was born in a hogan and didn’t receive a birth certificate. He had the desire to go, but told them he wasn’t old enough. The recruiters said they would take care of that. They handed him a form for his father to sign, which allowed him to join. He hitchhiked from Tuba City to Navajo Mountain to get permission to serve his country. He returned with his father’s blessing and later was shipped to San Diego for boot camp.
He fought in World War II and the Korean War. He served in the Marine Corps from Oct. 20, 1942, to Jan. 18, 1946. He then re-enlisted with the Army from April 21, 1948, to Oct. 23, 1952. During his service, his rank was private first class. After the Navajo Code Talkers were declassified in 1968, Sidney was promoted to the rank of sergeant major in 1988 for his outstanding service. He was involved with multiple battles on multiple islands, including Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Bougainville, Tinian, Guam, the Hawaiian Islands, Saipan, Japan, the Solomon Islands, Vella Lavella Island, New Caledonia and Okinawa. He became a certified paratrooper while stationed in New Caledonia.
He was the last living Navajo Code Talker paratrooper. He was very proud to have earned his paratrooper wings. He served in the 2nd, 4th and 5th Marine Corps Divisions, 8th Army and 1st Parachute Regiment.
Toward the end of his service in the Army, Sidney returned to the states and married his sweetheart, Lena Begay, on Sept. 10, 1952, in Salinas, Calif.
They eventually moved back to Arizona and lived in the Flagstaff area, where he worked as a civil service employee at the Navajo Army Depot in Bellemont for 35 years. He served as an explosives operator from 1953 to 1988.
He kept to his culture and way of life as he continued to herd sheep and grow crops on his land.
The greatest thing he recalled from serving as a Code Talker was saving the lives of his Marine Corps brethren and defeating the enemy through his sacred language, along with preserving the life, liberty, and freedoms of our country. He said he’d do it again without question, as he truly loved serving his country and countryman.
He received the Silver Congressional Medal of Honor, the Korean Service Medal, the Army of Occupation Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.
Sidney was very proud of his culture and tribe, his native language that won the war, his wife and family. He loved life and his great/grandchildren. His faith played an integral role in his life and he credited his Heavenly Father for protecting him and bringing him home twice from two different wars. He had a testimony of Jesus Christ, whom he regarded as his Savior and Redeemer. He believed his family is an eternal unit and will be together once again after this life.
He loved his Marine brothers and did everything he could for them while serving. He didn’t hesitate when asked to join, which was evident in his 80-mile hitchhike to his father to obtain permission to serve his country and bring honor to his family and tribe.
Sidney was an active member of the Navajo Code Talker Association and went back to visit the islands of the Pacific with his dear wife, Lena, where he fought and saw his brothers sacrifice their lives for their cause and country. He loved sharing and telling his story to whomever wherever he was, including restaurants, stores and at parades.
He was grand marshal for so many parades and treasured each experience. He considered himself and knew he was a hero for his country. He brought honor and distinction to himself, family, country and brothers-at-arms whether or not he was wearing his military uniform. He loved serving his country so much he also served in the Army while fighting in the Korean War. Sidney was a man who was grateful to serve in any capacity, and truly was dedicated to his family and country. He will be sorely missed but always remembered as a hero, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend.
Sidney will always be in our hearts, as we continue on his legacy and share his story. He will most importantly be remembered as a loving and supportive husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. We will undeniably miss you but will always remember. We love you, Grandpa. Semper Fidelis.
Survivors include his loving wife of 61 years, Lena B. Bedoni; two children, Darrell and Norma; seven grandchildren, Candi (Tooele) Running Bear and Quinn Tooele, Eric, Erin, Dereck and Le Ann Mantanoña, and Jesse Hausteen; 10 great-grandchildren, Aubrey Running Bear, Elizabeth, Kaitlynn, Logan, Tyler, Joshua, Paige and Baby No. 7 (on the way) Mantanoña, and Hasia and Natalee Mantanoña.
He was preceded in death by two children, Virginia and Emerson; and a great-grandchild, Elliana Mantanoña.
Greer’s Mortuary of Winslow was in charge of the arrangements.