WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr., last week ordered flags on the Navajo Nation to be flown at half-staff in honor and recognition of the late Navajo Code Talker Lemuel Bahe Yazzie of Whitecone, Ariz., who died May 28.
He was 91. He was born on June 2, 1918, and would have been 92. He was Tsinaajinnii, born for Keyonnie Clan.
"The late Revered Lemuel B. Yazzie was a renowned Navajo Code Talker who served the United States of America, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the Navajo Nation during World War II with courage, honor and distinction," President Shirley said in a proclamation. "[He] endured the horrors of combat during the occupation of China and was in a radio platoon in a forward echelon against hostile forces."
In 2002, he received the Congressional Silver Medal for his Marine service.
Yazzie died peacefully at home in Whitecone, his daughter Linda Yonnie stated. He was proud to be a Code Talker and had long been active in the Navajo Code Talkers Association. Yazzie attended elementary school at the Leupp Boarding School and finished high school at the Albuquerque Indian School in l939.
During his high school years he was active in a variety of sports and captured the 1939 football championship of New Mexico with his fellow teammates. He was known as an excellent boxer and won five state AAU championship titles in his weight class.
After high school he left for California where he got his professional boxing license and boxed throughout northern and southern California. He fought 35 professional fights and won them all until his right hand was injured. He returned to Arizona and worked for the government repairing windmills.
In 1940, he married Dorothy Hardia Yazzie of Laguna Pueblo from the Village of Seama. They were married for 67 years until Mrs. Yazzie's death.
He was inducted in the U.S. Marine Corps on Sept. 21,1944, and served in the 4th Marine Division and the 6th Marine Division as a radio telephone operator from July 22, 1945, until March 30, 1946. He was honorably discharged on April 28, 1946.
Yazzie was employed with Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway as a diesel machinist for 20 years. He resigned to attend the Indian Bible Academy in Cottonwood.
Upon graduation from IBA in 1966, he moved his family to Flagstaff where he worked at the Mount Elden Conference grounds.
In 1971, the Rev. and Mrs. Yazzie were commissioned by the Conservative Baptist Home Mission Society of Wheaton, Ill. as missionaries to the Navajo people.
He was later ordained as the Revered Lemuel B. Yazzie. From 1969 to 1971, he and Mrs. Yazzie lived in Chinle. In 1971, he moved his family to the Whitecone area where he established the Tse' Bii' Otseel Bible Church.
He was involved in community work as Whitecone Chapter president, helped organize Post 71, and worked many years as a rancher.
He served as a missionary until his retirement from CBHMS in 1987. He received an honorary doctorate degree from Indian Bible College in Flagstaff.
Yazzie was an active member of the Navajo Code Talker Association, participating in many of the Code Talker events and traveling throughout the country. He participated in the New York City Veterans' Day Parade last November.
He was always a proud Christian, and served the Lord through his radio broadcasting, jail ministry, family counseling, church building, and Bible translation. He was involved in local bible camp meetings through out the Navajo Nation and other local tribes.
He traveled to Canada and Alaska to share the gospel with other tribal nations. He believed in the importance of Indigenous people serving in and caring for our Indigenous homelands, people, and culture. He embodied the essence of stewardship.
Yazzie is survived by his brothers Dudley Yazzie, Raymond John, Kee John; sisters Nellie Nelson, Jeanette Nez and Elouise Jackson; his children Elmer Yazzie of Whitecone, Ariz., Geri Goombi of Casa Blanca, N.M., Ruth Burshia of Woodbridge, Va., Deborah Romero of Albuquerque, Walter Kisemh of Whitecone, and Grace Dyea of Casa Blanca, N.M.
He also leaves behind 26 grandchildren, 52 great-grandchildren, seven great-great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews and clan relatives.
Yazzie's funeral service was held June 5 at at Tse'Bii Osteel Bible Church at Whitecone. Burial followed at the Veteran's Memorial Cemetery at Fort Defiance.
For more information, contact Linda Yonnie at (928) 699-4986 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or Claudia Jackson at (928) 380-3729 or e-mail email@example.com.