93 year old Chester Nez died recently in Albuquerque, New Mexico and as the final living member of an elite, nearly mystical group of 29 Navajo men who played a vital role in the War, he and the others will always be remembered for what they did for this Country.
They were the original Navajo Code Talkers
Many were skeptical in the beginning that this group could not, or would not succeed in their mission.
But as was soon to be learned, the Code Talkers not only were a tremendous success, they changed the course of the war.
They developed a Native language for coded messages that was so secret, it was only known by just a few.
“The name code talkers is strongly associated with bilingual Navajo speakers specially recruited during World War II by the Marines to serve in their standard communications units in the Pacific Theater. Code talking, however, was pioneered by Cherokee and Choctaw Indians during World War I.” —– Wikipedia
“The code talkers received no recognition until the declassification of the operation in 1968” —– Wikipedia
The Japanese were simply never able to crack their code, which crippled their efforts in the War.
This impenetrable code, was simply the basic language that these men and their people spoke, but very few off of the Reservation did, which was why it was such a success.
This turned out to be one of the greatest War time secret weapons, that our US Military has likely ever developed.
Several hundred more Navajo Code Talkers were eventually added to the original 29 and there were also Code Talkers from other Native Nations as well.
Americans and other countries who were protected by our military, owe each of these brave Native men a huge debt of gratitude, along with every single member of the combined services who fought and died during this time.
The 2002 film meant to honor these men, Windtalkers, was fairly accurate, about 78% according to Nez.
The Original group of 29 did not receive their Congressional Gold Medal until 2001, but by then, nearly all of them were already gone.
Only five were still alive and only four attended the ceremony.
The groups that followed the Original 29, were given Silver Medals for their Service.
Chester was scheduled to be at a book event in just a few days to join and speak with Award winning author Judith Avila, who has written about and studied the Code Talkers.
He will most definitely be there with her in spirit.
***Regretfully, I was unable to find any public domain pictures of Chester, but you will see him in many of the links that are shown below.***
Places to learn more: