The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, PFC Peter Yazzie Claw, who died in the service of his country on April 5th, 1968 in Kontum Province, Vietnam. The cause of death was listed as Small Arms/AW. At the time of his death Peter was 22 years of age. He was from Kayenta, Arizona. Peter is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel 48E, Line 18.
The decorations earned by PFC Peter Yazzie Claw include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.
Yazzie is buried in Citizen's Cemetery, Flagstaff, AZ
My name is Harrison Billy and I am Pete's younger brother. I was old enough to know what happened back in '68. The toll it took on us when we heard the news was terrible. When you're young you think differently and at that age(13) I vowed to get even with the people that did that. I joined the Air Force in '73 and I went into Weapons Technician and I tried to go over there, but by then the war was winding down. We stayed for awhile in Denver until they told us the US was pulling out of Vietnam and we were told we were staying stateside. At first I was disappointed, but when I think about it -- it was probably best that I stayed because our mom was probably even more concerned. I have a 17 year old son that's going to be eligible for the draft soon and Iraq is even more on my mind these days. I don't think I want my wife to go through what my mom went through.
I'm very honored to hear about you and I am very glad to get to know you. We Native Americans are proud of our warriors and soldiers and we respect them just as much as we do our elders. I feel a sense of relief -- as though another piece of the puzzle fell into place. I've longed for over 30 years to just meet someone that knew Pete in the war. I've seen so many movies and documentaries about Vietnam and I've read so much about it in hopes of maybe seeing his picture or hearing a story about him until now. Even till this day it still brings tears to my eyes and I still long for his company. It seems like a piece of me has always been missing. I go through the agony of not having someone to look up to and I feel like I've been carrying most of the burden here at home and within the family and maybe it was meant to be that way.Our mom passed away almost 1-1/2 years ago and when she passed on she still had a picture of Pete in military clothes stuck away in her purse that we never knew she had. As much as she wanted to stay here with us I think she was longing to see her warrior and another daughter that passed on when mom was still very young.
Pete was never around home that much because he was always on the go. I think he enjoyed traveling and getting into trouble. I remember we used to live in Grand Canyon when I was about 5 or 6 and he used to drop by once in awhile. I was always glad and happy to see him, but he was not very close to me. I think that might have been because he wanted me to grow up tough and mean and that was his way of showing it. I remember he used to come home on the Greyhound bus every year from Intermountain High School in Utah and I was thrilled to see him get off the bus -- almost like he was a rock star or celebrity. I think
after he finished school he went to live and work in Los Angeles, but he used to come home to grandmother's homestead in Chilchinbeto. Sometimes he would come home drunk and my aunt and grandmother had to tie him up so he wouldn't hurt anybody. I knew he had a girlfriend in Gallup and he would go there once in a while. Her name was Margaret and she was a fox -- I saw her at the funeral. I think Pete might have volunteered for Vietnam because they got into an argument -- maybe because of something she said or did. I remember one night he came home drunk and he was trying to convince my other cousins to go with him. My cousins were about the same age as him and they didn't want to go because they were scared and they said it didn't concern them.
Pete grew up in Chilchinbeto -- actually near a place called White Mesa. My grandmother mostly raised him because he had a different dad. He did not really get along with my dad and that might be another reason why he wasn't very close to me. His life was similar to mine we herded sheep, cattle and some horses, mostly farm and ranch life. I remember my grandmother used to make moonshine whiskey to sell and Pete and my other cousins used to lower me down into an earthen cellar and steal a few pints of whiskey. Well I've told you quite a bit about some of Pete's childhood and other personal things about him.I hope this might give you a better picture of who he was and where he came from.