Chester Nez, U.S. Marine, Last Survivor of Original 29 Navajo Code Talkers, Dead at 93

As the LAST of the original Navajo Code Talkers, Chester Nez, was recently the subject of a wonderful profile article in Navajo Nation Fair Magazine. (Photo: Navajo Nation Fair Magazine)

Bottom Line: We start with the “bottom line” today to tell you simply (and sadly) that American hero and Navajo Code Talker, Chester Nez, has died at the age of 93. As you may recall, Nez was the subject of a previous article here on The Joe Report, concerning the book he had co-authored recounting his time and experiences during WWI. In honor and memory of Nez’s passing, we’re re-running that article here today. For a complete obituary on Nez, we recommend you go HERE.


inmemoriam2The following was originally published September 25, 2012:

I came across an important magazine article today…

It’s about a tough, American war hero, Chester Nez. At age 90, Nez is a former Marine and the LAST surviving member of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers. This made me curious, and so I browsed around the ‘net until I found another article (from ICTMN), revealing more about Nez…

“His mission was so important that he didn’t get leave for three years. His mission was so secret he couldn’t talk about it until 23 years after the war ended. Proper honor for what he did wouldn’t come for 55 years. Code talkers were sworn to secrecy even after the war in case the code had to be used again. And it was, in the Korean Conflict and again in the Vietnam War.”

“Code Talker” by Chester Nez is now available in bookstores and online. (Photo: Berkley Trade)

Fortunately for all of us, the real story of the Code Talkers and their activities during those conflicts has finally been revealed with the recent publication of Nez’s new book entitled, “Code Talker.” Nez’s book is the ONLY memoir written by one of the original Navajo Code Talkers and for that reason, is considered by WW2 historians to be a VERY important account.

All too often, members of “the Greatest Generation” have passed on before leaving behind any written or oral record of their military service. Here is just one exciting excerpt from Nez’s book about WW2 in the Pacific theater…

“With saltwater filling our boots and dragging against each step, Roy Begay and I force ourselves forward. We try to avoid the bodies and parts of bodies that float everywhere. But that’s impossible. Blood stains the tide washing onto the beach. Roy and I tote a TBX radio and a microphone. Headsets clamp over our ears, so we can’t hear the hiss as hot bullets hit Pacific waters. But we’ve heard that sound too many times before. Rifles remain slung over our shoulders, unused. Our job is to talk, not to shoot.”

A Navajo Code Talker during WW2.
(File photo: USMC)

Such first-person accounts are becoming all the more important as time passes by. For example, when asked why he decided to join the Marines and help form the original Code Talkers, further insight is revealed when Nez replies…

“I reminded myself that my Navajo people had always been warriors, protectors. 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. The white man’s military had accepted us as tough Marines. Hardened by the rigors of life on the reservation. We often out-performed our white peers.”

Hasbro saw fit to (appropriately) honor the Code Talkers with a unique “talking” GIjOE. These figures are still available online, and this one includes a code-word sheet and free “Junior Navajo Code Talker” patch. COOL!
(Photo: Southwest Indian Foundation)

Today’s Homework Assignment for all Joeheads… If you’re interested in learning more about the USMC Code Talkers, you can read more about Chester Nez online HERE, purchase his new book HERE, watch a moving, 10-minute video (below), visit the official Code Talker’s museum website HERE, or order one of the GIjOE Code Talker action figures from the Southwest Indian Foundation website store HERE. Davey Baker, a fellow Marine who worked with the Code Talkers during WW2, described the Code Talker’s thankless, secretive work best, when he said…

“If God alone may know, they saved thousands of American lives, yet their tale has been hidden by the very role they played.”

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2 thoughts on “Chester Nez, U.S. Marine, Last Survivor of Original 29 Navajo Code Talkers, Dead at 93

  1. kneonknight says:

    Truly a magnificent man and an invaluable asset to the United States. I wish to express my condolences to his friends and family, and to express my gratitude for his service to our nation. It is because of him, and the other courageous Navajos that served in the Pacific theatre that the war was won.

    Mr. Nez has surely earned his place in history, as well as the hearts and minds of any who have borne arms. I salute you, sir.

  2. Allen Yuen says:

    Last of the Navajo Code Talkers, last of a small group of heroes who had to keep their secret for years after WW2. Hasbro did it right, by creating the GI jOE Navajo Code Talker and including information about these courageous men.

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