Chester Nez, the last original Navajo Code Talker, has passed away in his Albuquerque home.
Nez was recruited with 28 other Native Americans by the U.S. Marines to create a code the Japanese couldn’t crack during World War II.
Nez went into kidney failure Wednesday morning. He was 93.
“Many people have met him,” said Judy Avila, a friend and author of Nez’s memoir. “When you meet him, you’re charmed by him.”
He was the last living member of the group.
“There were a lot of people and naysayers who said, ‘How can these young Navajo men help us?’ But it turned out to be the only unbroken spoken code in modern warfare,” said Avila.
After Avila wrote the memoir, so many people showed up to a 2011 book signing in Albuquerque that the store sold out.
“I’m just happy that all these people reading (the memoir) will know what my Navajo people did for this country,” said Nez.
After the success of the original 29 code talkers, more were recruited. Avila believes about 400 Navajos were enlisted.
The original 29 Code Talkers were given the Congressional Gold Medal in 2001.
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