John Kinsel, Sr.- Navajo Code Talker

John Kinsel Sr.- Navajo Code Talker

John Kinsel - Navajo Code Talker-05-20-10

Photo by Tom Grier/Navajo Oral History Project.

Navajo Oral History Project

John Kinsel Sr. was born in 1921 and raised on the Navajo Nation in Lukachukai, Arizona.  During his last months of high school, in 1942, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

John Kinsel - Navajo Code Talker -22-05-20-10

Photo by Tom Grier/Navajo Oral History Project.

After he graduated, John enlisted in the U.S. Marines. During his time in World War II, 1942-1945, he was a Navajo Code Talker in the 3rd Marine Division in the South Pacific.

John Kinsel Haskie-Kinsel Group-05-20-10Photo by Tom Grier/Navajo Oral History Project.

John Kinsel, Sr.- Navajo Code Talker – Navajo Oral History Project Video

Project completed by:
Marcus A. Lake – DC
Revaline Nez – DC
Michael Ruka – WSU


This documentary film was researched, photographed, edited and produced by students of Winona State University (Winona, Minnesota) and Diné College (Tsaile, Arizona, Navajo Nation) during summer 2009.

It contains stories Grandma Marjorie Thomas of Chinle, Arizona, told the students during several hours of interviews about her life.

This documentary film is archived at the Navajo Nation MuseumNavajo Nation LibraryWinona State University Library, and Diné College Library, and will be archived at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.

The film is part of the Navajo Oral History project, a multi-year collaboration between the Winona State UniversityMass Communication Department and Diné College– The official Tribal College of the Navajo Nation


Navajo People Website Links:

Navajo Culture – Navajo History – Navajo Art – Navajo Clothing Navajo Pictures – Navajo Rugs – Navajo Language– Navajo Jewelry – Navajo Code Talker – Navajo Pottery – Navajo Legends – Hogan’s – Sand Painting – Navajo Food – Navajo News – Navajo Nation




  1. Several years ago I was at a museum of northern Arizona’s monthly meeting.a code taker was there and his grandson depressed in his uniform assisted the end of the meeting with out any prompting we all stood up and clapped our hands to honor him.i hope it may have been your family.

  2. Bob Koehler says

    On the morning of May 1st of this year had the wonderful opportunity to meet John Kinsel’s daughter (Theresa?) who was working at the Hampton Inn we had just spent the night at. Theresa told my wife and I about her father’s involvement in the War as a Code Talker. I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and emotion that caught me by surprise. A flood of memories from my past about books, articles and movies I had experienced about the Code Talkers rushed through me.

    Theresa gave me her father’s address and I promised to write to her father and thank him for his years of service and the unique role he played in the final outcome of the great war. I am sorry to say that I somehow misplaced his address and was a bit frantic to follow through on my promise. I am hoping that this email will somehow find its way to John Kinsel.

    John, am only one person but I am one who is eternally grateful for the sacrifice you made for this country. The great service you and your fellow Navajo men made single-handedly impacted the war in a way that is immeasurable. We are a free country in no small way because of your efforts…I am grateful. I am also honored to have met your daughter who was beautifully kind and thoughtful to complete strangers. You should be proud of the daughter you raised. Again, thank you.


    Bob Koehler
    Minneapolis, MN

  3. Beth Hague, Texarkana, TX says

    So honored to meet you on July 4th, 2018 in Old Town Albuquerque signing books! Thank you for your honorable service to our country!

  4. Eleanor Hirneisen says

    I had the pleasure of meeting your daughter Theresa in Gallup NM 11/16. She gave me the information to this website. I was honored to listen to your story and have passed on the website inform. to my friends. So wonderful that you are still alive and doing well at the age of 95 years old.May God bless you. I would love to someday meet with you in person, it would be an honor sir. Thank you so much for your service. The code talkers were an amazing contribution to our armed forces.