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The Latest: Politicians pay tribute to Navajo code talker

May 29, 2019
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Mourners gathered to remember deceased state Sen. John Pinto at the state Capitol in Santa Fe, N.M., on Wednesday, May 29, 2019. Pinto died on Friday at age 94 after serving 42 years in the state Senate. He trained as a Navajo code talker to encrypt radio messages in World War II and helped authorize spending this year for a museum about the code talkers. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on memorials to deceased Navajo Code Talker and state Sen. John Pinto (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

Family, friends and politicians are honoring deceased Navajo Code Talker and state Sen. John Pinto at a memorial procession and service.

Hundreds of mourners gathered inside the New Mexico state Capitol on Wednesday to hear tributes to Pinto.

Democratic Senate majority leader Peter Wirth said colleagues of Pinto were awed by the stamina that carried the World War II veteran through 42 years as a legislator.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham praised Pinto for rallying lawmakers this year to authorize state spending on a museum about Navajo code talkers who helped safeguard military secrets in World War II by encrypting radio communications. She noted that Pinto’s political career spanned across landmark legislation for Native American health care and tribal consultation requirements for governments.

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1 a.m.

A procession in honor of deceased state Sen. John Pinto will travel from Gallup to the state Capitol to honor the former Navajo Code Talker and politician.

The procession including State Police and the Navajo and Hopi Honor Riders motorcycle group is scheduled to accompany Pinto’s casket through the communities of Shiprock, Farmington, Bloomfield, Cuba, Bernalillo and Santa Fe.

Afternoon memorial services were scheduled in the Statehouse rotunda.

Pinto died on Friday at age 94 after setting a record for serving 42 years in the state Senate.

Potential successors to Pinto in the Senate will be nominated by the McKinley and San Juan county commissions. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham makes the final appointment.

Pinto this year voted in favor of progressive initiatives on gun control and abortion rights.

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