Friday, January 20, 2006

Army Specialist Clifton J. Yazzie

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Clifton J. Yazzie, 23, of Fruitland, N.M.

Spc Yazzie was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky. killed Jan. 20 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during patrol operations in Huwijah, Iraq. Also killed were: Staff Sgt. Rickey Scott, Sgt. Dennis J. Flanagan and Spc. Matthew C. Frantz.

Farmington Daily Times -- ENAHNEZAD -- More than 250 family members and friends of Sgt. Clifton "Tigger" Yazzie, 23, of Fruitland, gathered Tuesday night at the Nenahnezad Chapter House to remember the fallen soldier and offer their support to his family.

Outside of the meeting, a United States flag flew at half-staff in honor of the soldier.

Yazzie was killed Friday in Iraq when an improvised explosive device exploded near his HMMWV, according to a Department of Defense release. It was the second tour of duty for Yazzie who was serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

According to Capt. Doug Walton of the United States Army, Yazzie's body is currently at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Del. No timetable has been set for the return of the body to Fruitland. No funeral arrangements will be made until a return date is set, according to Clifford "C.Y." Yazzie, Clifton's father.

He added that a motorcycle escort has been requested for Clifton's journey from Albuquerque to the funeral home and details will be released to Four Corners riders once they are known.

Though services have not been set, friends and family took time Tuesday to remember Yazzie as a soldier and a friend.

"He was an outstanding soldier, he was always trying to do his best to accomplish the mission," said Marco Sanchez, 29, of Acoma, who served with Yazzie during the soldier's first tour in Iraq. "He was a great, caring guy. He was my best friend, the closest thing to family you got over there."

Sanchez said he and his wife learned of Yazzie's death from a television newscast and traveled to Nenahnezad to offer their support to the family.

"We just started crying, It's something that's hard to bear," Sanchez said.

Keith Tso, 31, and his brother Kee Tso, 33, are uncles of Yazzie's wife, Michelle Yazzie, 21. They said they remember Clifton as being the type of person who could brighten up a room with his smile and jokes, and would be disappointed if he didn't make people happy.

"He brings the room to life. He's a happy person, he was always cheerful," Keith said.

Kee noted Yazzie bounced around like Tigger and searched for a way to brighten anyone's mood if they were upset.

"Once he found that mood, he'd bring everyone up," Kee said.

In addition to always smiling and trying to make others do the same, the Tsos said Yazzie always put his family first.

"He was always there for his kids, no matter what," Keith said. Yazzie is survived by two children, Chaynitta, 3, and 18-month-old Cayden.

"When he got out of the military, he wanted to get into construction, learn to build a house and build a house for his wife, build his family a home," Kee added.

Once Michelle and the children arrived, along with Clifton's parents, Jeanette and Clifford, the informational meeting began. Lambert Yazzie, no relation, a Blue Star Father with a son in Iraq, served as master of ceremonies.

"The hardest thing for us is to share in the passing of one of our warriors," Lambert said, standing underneath the flags of all the military branches and in front of a table draped with a black-and-gold United States Army blanket. Several photos of Clifton Yazzie sat in frames on the blanket.

"This is one thing we don't want any family to experience," he added.

Lambert also mentioned the planned motorcycle escort and urged any area resident to join in, much like they did in 2001 when the Kirtland Central High School boys basketball team won the state championship. Clifton was a senior member of that quad.

"Come and gather again and welcome him back," Lambert urged. "Our warrior Clifton's coming home."

Following remarks by family friends, Clifford said he was surprised by all the support and wanted to thank the community for their donations and kind thoughts.

"It's special," he said, looking at the packed chapter house meeting room. "That's what makes us strong, this is what keep us up. I love them all for doing all this."

Michelle Yazzie, who declined interviews, said through a family spokesman that she was grateful for all the support, prayers and donations that have poured in.

Throughout the meeting, Michelle sat with her two children and clutched a large Tigger stuffed animal.

Army Specialist Clifton J. Yazzie was killed in action on 01/20/06.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I miss you uncle very much. Never really got to see you. I love you.
-Shaylyn Bedah