New Mexico State Senator John Pinto Dead at 94
John Pinto, the long-serving New Mexico state senator, has recently passed away at the age of 94. Aside from his political side, he was also a World War II veteran and one of the last Navajo Code Talkers.
The sad news was confirmed by the Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller on Friday, May 24. 2019, after officers from the Gallup Police Department were called to the late senator's address.
According to the reports, the politician was not breathing and was transported to the Gallup Indian Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.
Today our state lost a legend, & I lost an old friend. Senator John Pinto and I became very close during the time we served together in the Senate. At 29, I was the youngest senator, & at 83, he was the oldest. We often ate together and worked together over the next six years. pic.twitter.com/rp40nJwrat— Mayor Tim Keller (@MayorKeller) May 24, 2019
HE DIED DOING WHAT HE LOVED
So far, no cause of death has been revealed but the case is currently being investigated by the Police Department. Following his death, Pinto's family also released a statement saying that he died surrounded by his loved ones.
Jill & I were saddened to hear of the passing of John Pinto, a true hero & public servant to NM, Indian Country, & the country. We send our sympathies to his loved ones, & hope it’s a comfort that so many others share their grief for the passing of a legendary statesman.— Archive: Senator Tom Udall (@SenatorTomUdall) May 24, 2019
The family also said:
"He worked tirelessly throughout his lifetime to serve the Diné people. The family would like to express their gratitude to his constituents and fellow legislators for allowing him to serve, it is what truly made him happy."
A LIFETIME OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Born in 1924 in Lupton, Arizona, Pinto was a Marine Corps veteran and one of the last Navajo Code Talkers, a group of men who used the Navajo language to encode and transmit military messages during World War II.
At the age of 39, he managed to earn a bachelor's degree and then a master's degree in elementary education from the University of Mexico. He also worked for 28 years for Gallup-McKinley County Schools.
Senator John Pinto was a New Mexico icon and an American hero. I will miss his good humor, as will everyone at the Capitol, and I offer my deepest condolences to his loved ones, his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/oAectRmWQi— Michelle Lujan Grisham (@GovMLG) May 24, 2019
THE SECOND NAVAJO CODE TALKER DEATH IN ALMOST A YEAR
Pinto's death comes less than a year after the passing of Samuel Tom Holiday, another Navajo Code Talker from World War II. Curiously, Holiday also passed away at the age of 94, a few days after celebrating his birthday.
A known face in the St. George area, Holiday wrote a book, titled "Under the Eagle: Samuel Holiday, Navajo Code Talker," talking about his experiences as a veteran, his role in the war and how he taught others about the importance of the language in the battlefield.