Navajo loses another Code Talker

By Bill Donovan
Special to the Times

GALLUP, Sept. 23, 2013

Text size: A A A

The family of Navajo Code Talker Nelson Draper announced Sunday that he had passed away earlier that morning. He was 96 years old.

Draper was 25 years old and living in Chinle when World War II started. After joining the U.S. Marines, he was trained as a Code Talker and participated in a number of battles in the Pacific including Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

His family said that after the war, he stayed with the Marine Corps and worked at the Marines Corp Logistic Base in Barstow, Calif. for more than 30 years. He also retired there with his wife, Lena, and died there.

He and his wife have a number of relatives, including his brother, Teddy, who still live in the Chinle area.

In 2001, Draper was one of 228 Code Talkers to receive the Congressional Silver Medal for his service tot he country during World War II.

On getting the medal he said, “I feel it means I’m a good fighter, a good warrior.”

His family said Sunday that while he maintained his home in Barstow, he visited relatives frequently on the reservation and was always proud of being a Code Talker, giving speeches at times in California to tell people the role the Navajos had played in the winning of the war.

He has seven children, 35 grandchildren and 49 great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are still pending.