Last of Navajo World War II 'Code Talkers' dies in New Mexico


Chester Nez was the last survivor of an original group of Navajos recruited by the U.S. Marine Corps to create a code based on their language that the Japanese could not crack…

It was regarded as secure from Japanese military code-breakers because the language was spoken only in the U.S. Southwest, was known by fewer than 30 non-Navajo people, and had no written form…

Nez and his young fellow recruits were called communications specialists by the Marines and were taught Morse code, semaphore and “blinker,” a system using lights to send messages between ships.

The code they developed substituted Navajo words for military terms. “CHAY-DA-GAHI,” which translates to “turtle,” came to mean a tank, while a “GINI,” “chicken hawk” in English, became a dive-bomber. America was “NE-HE-MAH,” “our mother.”

This has always fascinated me.


I’ve started reading a book on language, and the author made a comment that Navajo has such a complex vocabulary and grammar that one needs to learn it in childhood to gain any fluency.


Eternal rest grant unto him oh Lord and may perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.


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