World War II Navajo Code Talker hopes to save historic Flagstaff motel

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (FOX 10) - A special guest attended the Waste Management Phoenix Open: Peter MacDonald -- to talk about efforts to save a historic Flagstaff motel and turn it into a Navajo Code Talker museum.

In a sea of pastel-clad golf fans at the Phoenix Open, it's easy to spot MacDonald in his red USMC jacket, but that's not the only reason he stands out among the crowd -- he is one of the last eight remaining World War II Navajo Code Talkers.

"As you look around here, they're so diverse, different languages, different nationalities, different everything," he said. "That's America. What we did truly represents that."

Today he's on a mission.

Peter and his daughter, Hope, and friend Jacquie Kellogg, are fighting to save a piece of history -- the El Pueblo Motor Inn, located at 3120 E. Historic Route 66 outside of historic downtown.

According to the U.S. Marine Corps-WWII Navajo Code Talkers Association, "The motel also played another key role in U.S. history when its owner, Philip Johnston, recruited Navajo to serve in the Marines as Code Talkers during World War II."

But now, the motel is in danger of being destroyed and ultimately forgotten.

Kellogg, a Flagstaff realtor, says from the minute she met Peter, she knew she had to join him in his mission to have the motel, not only saved, but turned into a museum.

"This is not Flagstaff history, this is not U.S. history, this is world history, this is an unwritten language that was never decipherable and when these eight gentlemen are gone, they're all gone and all we're going to have is the memorial to teach future generations what they've done for our country," she said.

The hope is to remember history.

"We want to preserve this legacy so that your children, our children, future generations can go through that museum and really learn who we are," MacDonald said.

He says there's nothing we can't accomplish when we're united as a nation.

"When we come together as one people, we are invincible. We cannot be defeated. We cannot lose our freedom and liberty that we all cherish."