April 7, 2004
Nephew of Navajo Nation VP Killed in Iraq
The Associated Press
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. A 29-year-old Army medic from the Navajo Nation was killed in a surprise attack in Iraq, tribal officials said.
Sgt. Lee Duane Todacheene of Lukachukai, Ariz., was killed Monday night, said Charmaine Jackson-John, a spokeswoman for the Navajo president's office. Todacheene is the nephew of Navajo Vice President Frank Dayish Jr.
"We are completely devastated by the news," said Dayish.
Todacheene, a member of the Army's 1st Infantry Division medic unit, was stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany, where he and his family have lived for the past two years.
Todacheene is survived by his wife, Jacqueline, and his 8- and 9-year-old sons.
Todacheene's brother, Rydell Todacheene, said Army officials told the family that his brother was killed in a surprise attack and died instantly. No other details were immediately available.
"There were so many great qualities about my brother. He was proud to be in the U.S. Army and a medic. He was proud to be a Navajo," Rydell Todacheene said. "He was a quiet man, he was a strong man, a gentleman. He respected himself and everybody. He was generous and kind, and he loved his family above everything else."
Lee Duane Todacheene is believed to be the first Navajo killed in the Iraq war, Jackson-John said.
Army Spc. Lori Piestewa, a Hopi Tribe member who lived in Tuba City on the Navajo Reservation, was killed last March. She was the first woman killed in combat in the war.