Marine Lance Cpl. Alejandro J. Yazzie
Died February 16, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom
23, of Rock Point, Ariz.; assigned to 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died Feb. 16 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
(The following was taken from www.ksun-news.com of Feb. 27, 2010) FARMINGTON — Ferlando Bitsui said his younger brother, Marine Lance Cpl. Alejandro J. Yazzie, told him not to worry when he was deployed to fight in Afghanistan.
"He said, Don't cry for me, I'm coming home,'" Bitsui told audience members at Yazzie's funeral Friday. "And he's home."
Yazzie, 23, of Rock Point, Ariz., died Feb. 16 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. He was assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Yazzie's casket lay covered with the American flag at the Farmington Civic Center as an audience that nearly filled the theater mourned.
He is the 11th Navajo Nation service member killed in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Nation officials.
Yazzie, nicknamed "Poncho," graduated from Rock Point Community School in 2004. The Four Corners area resident enjoyed bull-riding and was the president of the school's rodeo club and played football. A true cowboy, Yazzie loved horses and working outdoors, Bitsui said.
Bitsui described his brother as physically and mentally strong. Once stung by a large bumblebee when he was a baby, Yazzie laughed, picked it up and let it go, Bitsui said.
Yazzie first wanted to join the Marines when he was 6, Bitsui said, adding he was disappointed in Yazzie's decision to join, but accepted it and became proud of him.
"My little brother defended our Nation and our country with respect and love and loyalty," Bitsui said. "And he paid it with his life, but he did it for what he believed in."
Yazzie is survived by mother, Eva Yazzie; stepfather, Pete Begay; and father, Johnson Yazzie. He is survived by his wife, Kalandra Rae Roanhorse-Yazzie; his grandmother, Minnie Yazzie; his brothers, Bitsui, Rodello Holyan and Chance Holyan; and sister, Rayona Holyan.
"This moment in time is a somber moment for all of us," Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. told audience members.
Service members like Yazzie have defended freedom and Navajo way of life, Shirley said. Navajo people have lost children and grandchildren in war.
"I do not know if we will ever win the war against wrong," Shirley said. "In the annals of our history, many wars have been fought and many soldiers have been lost. The prayer is that one day the killing will stop and all of our soldiers will come home."
Shirley presented Yazzie's wife with a plaque that expressed gratitude for her husband's courage and military service. Shirley ordered flags flown at half-staff until sundown Sunday.
Roanhorse-Yazzie, who married Yazzie in July, took the plaque and slowly walked back to her seat in the front row next to other family members at the civic center. The casket lay at the foot of the stage and close to the family.
Family members were asked to stand; several wore military uniforms.
Photos showed Yazzie wearing cowboy hats, Marine Corps and football uniforms and spending time with family members as country and rock songs played loudly through sobs of audience members.
Marine Cpl. Kurtice Maguire worked with Yazzie, the only one in their group who could light fires.
"He could put anyone in a good mood," Maguire said. "I know that he loved what he was doing."
Family members followed Marines carrying Yazzie's casket outdoors and loaded it into the back of a sport utility vehicle.
They consoled one another as a large American flag hoisted by a Farmington fire engine ladder flapped in the breeze over them. A procession left for Immanuel Mission Cemetery in Sweetwater, Ariz.
Yazzie had a "big heart for his size," and joins a proud tradition of honorable military service by Navajo people, said Earl Castillo, his cousin-brother who lives in Albuquerque.
Yazzie was a kind and caring man who loved his family, said Larose Chiquito, a family member who lives in Fruitland.
And, she said, "He was a good bull rider."