Leaving behind a legacy of pride and honor for the Navajo Nation, Chester Nez, the last of the original Code Talkers, passed away Wednesday morning.
The 93-year-old lied about his age in 10th grade in order to join the marines. Out of about 250 Navajos, the marines chose Nez and 28 other Navajo youth to develop a code used to communicate Japanese movement in World War II. Due to the complex nature of the Navajo language—and the code words themselves—the Japanese were never able to crack the code.
“It’s one of the greatest parts of history that we used our own native language during World War II,” Nez said in an interview with the Associated Press in 2009. “We’re very proud of it.”
Former President George W. Bush presented the Medal of Honor to Nez and his fellow Code Talkers in 2001.
The College of Nursing has had the unique opportunity to send its students to the Navajo Nation every year for clinical experience. Each year our understanding and appreciation of Navajo culture grows. We are grateful of for Nez’s service and the service of the other 28 Code Talkers that were instrumental in winning the war in the Pacific.