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Chester Nez, Last Original Navajo Code Talker, Passes at 93

June 06
15:53 2014

The last surviving member of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers, Chester Nez, passed away in his sleep at the age of 93 on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Flags across the Navajo Nation will be flown at half-staff from sunrise on June 5 through sunset on June 8 in his honor.

The Navajo Nation has lost our last living treasure, Chester Nez, an original member of the Navajo Code Talkers. We send his family and friends our deepest sympathy and condolences.”–Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly

Chester Nez

Chester Nez

Nez was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps 382nd Platoon. The Original 29 were the first Navajo Code Talkers to serve. They developed the code that would bewilder the Japanese in World War II.

The military chose to use the Navajo language as a code because its linguistic complexity was virtually impossible for a non-Navajo to learn, and at the time, it was not written or documented.

During a time in our Navajo history when our kids were shipped out to boarding school and forbidden to speak their native tongue, these brave men stepped forward to protect our country with their ability to speak Navajo.”–President Shelly

Nez saw combat as a Navajo Code Talker at the Battle of Guadalcanal, Battle of Guam, Battle of Peleiu, and Battle of Bogainville. He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1945.

Until their work was declassified in 1968, Navajo Code Talkers were not allowed to talk about what they did to anyone. In 2001, Nez and the rest of the original 29 were presented the Congressional Gold Medal by President George W. Bush.

In 2011, Nez wrote about his experience with co-author Judith Avila in the book, “Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII.

Chester Nez and the rest of the Original 29 now belong to the ages. We salute their valiant service and memory.”–President Shelly

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