Chester Nez, Last of World War II's Navajo Code Talkers, Is Dead

Chester Nez, Last of World War II's Navajo Code Talkers, Is Dead

"We mourn his passing but honor and celebrate the indomitable spirit and dedication of those Marines who became known as the Navajo Code Talkers," says Col. David Lapan, director of the Office of U.S. Marine Corps Communication.

In 1942 Chester Nez and 28 other young Navajo joined the Marines to help design an unbreakable code, which they deployed on the battlefields of the Pacific. It was the only way to keep communications safe; the Japanese were routinely breaking every other code the US military used, and the situation was becoming desperate. The Code Talkers, as they came to be known, became vital to the war effort, transmitting messages in lightning-quick time. Now the last of them, Chester Nez, has died, aged 93.

Nez lied about his age to join up. "I reminded myself that my Navajo people had always been warriors, protectors," he recalls in his memoirs. "In that there was honor. I would concentrate on being a warrior, on protecting my homeland. Within hours, whether in harmony or not, I knew I would join my fellow Marines in the fight."

He fought throughout the war, from November 1942 right through to 1945, without so much as a day of leave. After his honorable discharge, he went back to fight in Korea for two years.

The Marines soon recognized the value of the Code Talkers and began recruiting more; by 1945, somewhere between 375 to 420 Navajo were in the program. Code Talkers went on to be used throughout the Korean War, and for a brief period in Vietnam.

In 2001, the original 29 were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their service. "Our code was the only code in modern warfare that was never broken," Nez recalls with pride in a CNN interview. "The Japanese tried, but they couldn't decipher it. Not even another Navajo could decipher it if he wasn't a Code Talker."

Source: L.A. Times

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It's the 70th anniversary of D-Day tomorrow, too. Alot less people who were there are here anymore, makes you wonder what knowledge we lose with their passing.

It's kind of a chilling thought. How much longer until there's no one who actually remembers WW II alive?

erttheking:
It's kind of a chilling thought. How much longer until there's no one who actually remembers WW II alive?

I think about it all a lot. Luckily there are several programs that have had a hand in documenting all sorts of relevant information from that time period. Thankfully enough people from the younger generations still seem to find this sort of thing valuable, for instance, the Honor Flight program that helps get veterans out to the memorial in DC. From personally speaking to a WW2 veteran I found a reserve of strength and reverence from hearing his humble stories.

Right Hook:

erttheking:
It's kind of a chilling thought. How much longer until there's no one who actually remembers WW II alive?

I think about it all a lot. Luckily there are several programs that have had a hand in documenting all sorts of relevant information from that time period. Thankfully enough people from the younger generations still seem to find this sort of thing valuable, for instance, the Honor Flight program that helps get veterans out to the memorial in DC. From personally speaking to a WW2 veteran I found a reserve of strength and reverence from hearing his humble stories.

Eh, sorry, I was talking more about people who remembered it because they were there themselves.

erttheking:

Right Hook:

erttheking:
It's kind of a chilling thought. How much longer until there's no one who actually remembers WW II alive?

I think about it all a lot. Luckily there are several programs that have had a hand in documenting all sorts of relevant information from that time period. Thankfully enough people from the younger generations still seem to find this sort of thing valuable, for instance, the Honor Flight program that helps get veterans out to the memorial in DC. From personally speaking to a WW2 veteran I found a reserve of strength and reverence from hearing his humble stories.

Eh, sorry, I was talking more about people who remembered it because they were there themselves.

Right, I understand that, I only mentioned what I did to maybe put you a bit more at ease, many events in history can no longer be recalled in the first-person but as long as there are those who strive to remember and tell them, we won't forget and they won't lose value.

Me55enger:
It's the 70th anniversary of D-Day tomorrow, too. Alot less people who were there are here anymore, makes you wonder what knowledge we lose with their passing.

erttheking:
It's kind of a chilling thought. How much longer until there's no one who actually remembers WW II alive?

This is why old men tell all they can to the next generations. Remembering what we were told may not be the same as being there, but knowledge is still a close second to experience, especially useful knowledge. 'course, for those of you who have The History Channel, they NEVER stop running programs about WWII.

FalloutJack:

This is why old men tell all they can to the next generations. Remembering what we were told may not be the same as being there, but knowledge is still a close second to experience, especially useful knowledge. 'course, for those of you who have The History Channel, they NEVER stop running programs about WWII.

It's impressive how few actually do. Harry Patch - the man titled as The Last Tommy - didn't speak of what he witnessed in The Great War for decades, until he was well into his old age. Apparently it was the flickering of lights that effectively unlocked his memories.

My Grandfather was too young for the war, but was in British National Service (RAF) during the Korean war era. He didn't start talking about it until about 4 years ago. They are certainly things the need to be told and remembered. History is repeated by those who forget it etc etc etc.

Anyone interested in D-Day, BBC Radio 2 is covering it in real time all day. On a side note: It's my Birthday today.

Me55enger:

My Grandfather was too young for the war, but was in British National Service (RAF) during the Korean war era. He didn't start talking about it until about 4 years ago. They are certainly things the need to be told and remembered. History is repeated by those who forget it etc etc etc.

Anyone interested in D-Day, BBC Radio 2 is covering it in real time all day. On a side note: It's my Birthday today.

Mine was a medic with the tank destroyers at the time. I was don't think he talked too much about the war to me personally, but I was like 3 or something when he passed away, so I hear his tales from my dad. Apparently, the first thing he said when he go back home was "Well, I didn't kill anyone...", as a previous conversation before leaving had been about him going off to do so in the war.

Oh, and happy birthday.

 

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