WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - The U.S. Marine Corps Public Affairs Office at Camp Pendleton, Calif., reported today that the remains of Lance Cpl. Alejandro J. Yazzie have been cleared for release from Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, by the Department of Defense Medical Examiner.
However, paperwork delays have prevented the release from taking place. It is expected that will occur later this week. Consequently, a funeral date and plans have not been announced by Lance Cpl. Yazzie's family.
Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr., will issue an official proclamation ordering flags on the Navajo Nation to be flown at half-staff in honor of Lance Cpl. Yazzie as soon as funeral arrangements are announced. People may lower flags now to show their respects if they wish.
Lance Cpl. Yazzie, 23, of Rock Point was killed on Feb. 16 by a Taliban sniper in Marjah, Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif. He entered the U.S. Marine Corps in September 2008. His coffin arrived at Dover Air Force Base on Thursday.
He was the first Marine in this battalion to die in the Marjah offensive. According to a National Public Radio reporter, Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, embedded with his unit, Lance Cpl. Yazzie had planned to call his wife on her satellite phone that night after returning from the patrol.
Forcing hundreds of Taliban fighters out of the key stronghold in southern Afghanistan is proving far more difficult than expected for thousands of U.S. Marines and Afghan soldiers, NPR reported. The militants are using roadside bombs and snipers to slow the joint force to a crawl during the week-old offensive in the Taliban-controlled area called Marjah, it reported.
Lance Cpl. Yazzie liked to be with his family and grandmother. His favorite sport was bullriding. He enjoyed volunteering and talking to young students about the need to stay in school to finish college or vocational school. He also enjoyed target shooting with his brothers and nephews, listening to country and heavy metal music and eating traditional foods made by his grandmother.
He is survived by his wife Kalandra Rae Lonehorse-Yazzie, his mother Eva Yazzie, his father Johnson Yazzie, his grandmother Minnie Yazzie, his brothers Ferlando Lorin Bitsuie, Rodello Holyan and Chance Holyan, and one sister Rayona Holyan.