Chester Nez, the last of a group of Navajos who went to war as “Code Talkers”, has died at the age of 93. Nez lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His death is being called the end of an era by the Marine Corps. He joined the Marines as a young man in the 10 grade, lying about his age. He is the last of 29 men recruited to create a code based on the Navajo language.
Chester Nez recalled being recruited at the boarding school he was attending. He saw the mission as his chance to get out of there. Though many showed up at the recruiting station, only 29 were picked for the original group, Nez among them. The Marines recruited Navajos to create an unbreakable code because their language is almost impossible to learn. Along with syntax and tonal issues that are difficult for non-Navajos, until this point the Navajo language had never been written down. The Code talkers were deployed to the Pacific, where their codes baffled the Japanese, who had previously broken American codes. Nez saw action at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, and the Code Talkers were involved in every engagement the Marines fought in the Pacific. The Japanese never broke the code.
Chester Nez was the last survivor of an original group of Navajos recruited by the U.S. Marine Corps to create a code based on their language that the Japanese could not crack.