Navajo Code Talker Nelson Draper Sr. walked on Sunday, September 22 at the age of 96. He died at his home in Barstow, California.
Navajo Nation flags flew at half-staff to honor the fallen code talker and former U.S. Marine from September 26 through September 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 Ben Shelly said in a release from the Navajo Nation.
Draper was honored in 2001 with a Congressional Silver Medal for his service as one of the 228 Navajo Code Talkers.
A memorial service held for Draper on Friday, September 27 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church at 505 E. Mountain View Street in Barstow, California featured a drum and a slideshow.
Third District Supervisor James Ramos said it was Draper who gave him the desire to run for office and called code talkers “a beacon of light for those in the Indian Reservation community … that we, too, could play a role in the United States of America,” reported the Victorville Daily Press.
A burial service was held after the memorial at Mountain View Memorial Park.