Tribute to fallen soldier held at Kirtland Central High School

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

KIRTLAND − The life and military career of Sgt. Clifton Yazzie was celebrated in a pregame ceremony Friday night at Kirtland Central High School as part of a special Gold Star Family Salute and motorcycle salute.

Yazzie, a 2001 graduate of Kirtland Central High School and member of the state championship basketball team in his senior year, passed away in 2006 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Janette Yazzie, Clifton's mother, was joined at midfield by Clifton's two children, Chaynitta and Cayden Yazzie to take part in a special pregame ceremony and the pregame coin toss. After the playing of the national anthem, veterans and the father of Sgt. Yazzie, C.Y. Yazzie led a Gold Star Family motorcycle salute outside Bill Cawood Field.

Janette Yazzie, mother of late Army Sgt. Clifton Yazzie, and his two children, Chaynitta and Cayden Yazzie stand with football official Brad Duncan during the ceremonial coin toss prior to the start of a football game between Kirtland Central and Pagosa Springs, Friday, Oct. 7, 2022 at Bill Cawood Field.

"It's such a special moment for me and my family," said Janette Yazzie. "To see so many people here honoring my son and all he's done. It means so much to all of us."

Clifton Yazzie was posthumously awarded a plaque by the Military Order of the Purple Heart in addition to the Navajo Nation Council’s Warriors Medal of Valor.

"He grew up to become not only a soldier, but also someone fighting for freedom," said his uncle, Jay Yazzie Jr. "He was truly a Dine (Navajo) warrior."