THE FOLLOWING IS A SEPT. 26, 2013, PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OFFICE OF NAVAJO PRESIDENT BEN SHELLY REGARDING THE PASSING OF NAVAJO CODE TALKER NELSO DRAPER SR., EARLY SUNDAY MORNING. MY CONDOLENCES GO TO THE FAMILY OF NCT DRAPER SR.
President Shelly Commemorates Fallen Code Talker and Orders Navajo Flag Lowered
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz.— Navajo President Ben Shelly commemorated a fallen Navajo Code Talker Nelson Draper Sr., 96, who passed away early Sunday morning at his home in Barstow, Calif.
President Shelly also ordered the Navajo Nation flag be lowered in honor of Code Talker Draper beginning Thursday, Sept. 26 through Sept. 30.
“The Navajo Nation is saddened to learn about the passing of Code Talker Draper. We have lost another modern day hero whose deeds have brought great pride to the Navajo Nation because the Code Talkers used our language to help win World War II. Code Talker Draper’s deeds will be remembered and that of all the other Navajo Code Talkers. The Navajo Nation will eternally be grateful for their service to our country and our people,” President Shelly said.
“I urge all Navajo people to join First Lady Martha Shelly, Vice President Rex Lee Jim and myself to join us in prayers for the family of Code Talker Draper during their time of need.”
In 2001, Draper was honored for his service as one of 228 Navajo Code Talkers to receive the Congressional Silver Medal.
Services for Code Talker Draper are scheduled to take place on Friday in Barstow, Calif. At 9 a.m., a rosary and mass is planned at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church at 505 E. Mountain View Street. At 10 a.m., a memorial service is scheduled at High Desert Word Center, 30918 Soapmine Road.
HERE IS A NEWS STORY FROM DESERT DISPATCH ABOUT NTC DRAPER SR.:
WWII code talker dies
Draper received Congressional Silver Medal for service during war
September 25, 2013 8:09 PM
SENIOR STAFF WRITER
BARSTOW • Surrounded by loved ones, former Marine and Navajo Code Talker Nelson Draper Sr. died at age 96 early Sunday morning in his Barstow home, his daughter Christina Burke said.
During World War II, the code talkers were pivotal to the Marine Corps’ success against the Japanese in Iwo Jima and Okinawa, using their native Navajo language to provide critical communications in a code that was virtually impossible to crack.
Not many of the roughly 400 code talkers remain; some estimate between 25 to 60 are alive today.
“A lot of people knew my dad because of who he is, what he did in war,” Burke said. “My father was very proud of his service in World War II.”
Draper later became a civilian employee of the Marine Corps Logistics Base for 30-plus years.
In 2001, Draper was honored for his service as one of 228 code talkers to receive the Congressional Silver Medal. The medal is one of the highest awards bestowed by Congress. Each time it is presented, it is redesigned for the recipient.
Nelson Draper Jr. said his father spoke little about what he accomplished during World War II, even after the program was declassified by the military in 1968 — protective of the code until the end.
“We’re very proud of what he did,” Draper Jr. said.
On Friday, the public is invited to pay their respects.
At 9 a.m., a rosary and mass is planned at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church at 505 E. Mountain View Street. At 10 a.m., a memorial service is scheduled at High Desert Word Center, 30918 Soapmine Road.
A burial service is set to follow at Mountain View Memorial Park, 37067 Irwin Road.
Burke said she has invited several dignitaries to the 10 a.m. memorial service, including Ben Shelly, president of the Navajo Nation, and Third District Supervisor James Ramos.
Ramos, who confirmed Wednesday that he will attend, said Draper was a role model for younger Native Americans.
“Really, in the Indian community, (code talkers) are held up in high esteem,” Ramos said. “He was a leader for younger Indian people to look up to.”
Draper is survived by eight children, 29 grandchildren and 53 great-grandchildren, according to Burke.
“He was a great provider and great father, grandfather and great-grandfather,” granddaughter Selena Draper said.
Draper is at least the third Navajo Code Talker living in the Barstow area to pass away since 2006.
“He is a hero,” Burke said. “I want people to know my dad is a hero.”
Shea Johnson may be reached at (760) 256-4126 or at SJohnson@DesertDispatch.com.