This post includes an audio recording of the presentation by Chester Nez on Friday, March 1, at Northland College. The recording may take several minutes to load.
A group of Navajo marines created a secret code during World War II to aid the U.S. victory against the Japanese. The last surviving Navajo code talker will speak about his experience in Ashland on Friday. Andy Butter reports for WRNC. Listen to the news story below.
Chester Nez is one of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers that created the code allowing U.S. forces to transmit secret messages during the war. Nez wrote the only memoir about their service in the book “Code Talker”. Judith Avila co-wrote the book with Nez. Avila says Nez and the Navajo marines who served are a point of pride for the Native community.
“Native peoples and minority groups can make tremendous contributions to their country and often times it’s through their culture that the contribution is possible. In this case it’s the Navajo language.”
The Navajo code that Nez helped create is the only code in modern military history that remains unbroken. Nez says the Navajo marines were proud to serve their country.
“I spent a little over four years overseas and I was happy and glad to come home.”
Avila says Nez and the Navajo marines who served are heroes.
“He has been given award plaques and citations by the president of the Navajo Nation…Native people always come to our signings. They come up and hug him with tears in their eyes and thank him for letting his story be known.”
The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affair will present a plaque to the 92 year-old war veteran from Governor Scott Walker honoring him for his service. Nez will share his story at Northland College on Friday. Around 1,500 people are expected to attend, including veteran honor guards from tribes across the state.