The Navajo Nation mourns the loss of Navajo Code Talker Teddy Draper Sr. and offers condolences to his family. Draper passed away shortly after 7:00 a.m. this morning in Prescott, Arizona. Mr. Draper was 96.
The news of his passing comes a little more than a week after the Nation lost Navajo Code Talker George B. Willie Sr. With the tragic news today and with the passing of each Code Talker, our Nation is reminded of the importance of our warriors. As of this time, there are 10 Navajo Code Talkers still remaining.
“The Office of the Navajo Nation President and Vice President offer condolences on behalf of the Nation to the family of Code Talker Draper,” President Russell Begaye said. “With the passing of each Code Talker, our Nation mourns these heroes and living treasures.”
Draper was born in Canyon Del Muerto and resided in Chinle, Arizona. He was part of the 5th Marine Division, fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima and received a Purple Heart as well as a Congressional Silver Medal.
“The Navajo Code Talkers used our language to save this country during World War II,” Vice President Jonathan Nez said. “This is an example of the importance of passing down our language to our children. We are grateful and remember Teddy Draper not only for his efforts on the battlefield but in the classroom as well.”
Draper was known as a proponent of the Navajo language and taught language classes at Rough Rock Community High School. His legacy in language preservation is handed down in the materials he produced that have become a part of Navajo language curriculum in schools like Navajo Preparatory School and Dine College.
President Begaye recognized the Draper and the Code Talkers as great Navajo Warriors who deserve all the recognition they receive. The Nation and Navajo people need to highlight their heroic accomplishments by creating a museum in their honor, he said.
“As a nation, we need to dedicate ourselves to make this happen,” he said.
Although the Nation mourns the recent passing of two Navajo Code Talkers, President Begaye calls on every Chapter to celebrate the legacy of the Code Talkers by continuing to support their efforts.
“Whether it’s on the Nation or internationally, let’s support all they do, however, we are able to,” the president said.
The Nation will fly the flags at half-staff to honor the life and legacy of Teddy Draper Sr.
Details as to funeral arrangements are not known at this time, however, more information will be provided as it is received.