Thursday, July 31, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Chester Nez | Final Code Talker, 93

Chester Nez, 93, the last of the 29 Navajos who developed a code that stumped the Japanese during World War II, died Wednesday of kidney failure, said Judy Avila, who helped Mr. Nez write his memoirs.

Before hundreds of men from the Navajo Nation became Code Talkers, 29 Navajos were recruited to develop the code based on the then-unwritten Navajo language. Mr. Nez, of Albuquerque, N.M., was in 10th grade when he enlisted, keeping his decision a secret from his family and lying about his age, as did many others.

"It's one of the greatest parts of history that we used our own native language during World War II," Mr. Nez told the Associated Press in 2009. "We're very proud of it."

Of the 250 Navajos who showed up at Fort Defiance - then a U.S. Army base - 29 were selected to join the first all-Native American unit of the Marines. They were inducted in May 1942. Mr. Nez became part of the 382d Platoon.

- AP

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