The first and only memoir by one of the original Navajo code talkers of WWII.
His name wasn’t Chester Nez. That was the English name he was assigned in kindergarten. And in boarding school at Fort Defiance, he was punished for speaking his native language, as the teachers sought to rid him of his culture and traditions. But discrimination didn’t stop Chester from answering the call to defend his country after Pearl Harbor, for the Navajo have always been warriors, and his upbringing on a New Mexico reservation gave him the strength—both physical and mental—to excel as a marine.
During World War II, the Japanese had managed to crack every code the United States used. But when the Marines turned to its Navajo recruits to develop and implement a secret military language, they created the only unbroken code in modern warfare—and helped assure victory for the United States over Japan in the South Pacific.
INCLUDES THE ACTUAL NAVAJO CODE AND RARE PICTURES
Written with code talker scholar Schiess Avila, Nez's fascinating memoir details his experience as one of the original 29 "code talkers" a group of Native American soldiers who kept U.S. transmissions safe from the Japanese during WWII. The code they used was developed using Navajo, an entirely spoken language. Most Marines had no idea that Nez or his fellow Navajos were involved with the highly classified code talker mission, and trusted the team despite the era's prevalent racial segregation. Though Nez grew up speaking Navajo, he was sent to government-run boarding schools, and forced to learn English. His facility with both languages allowed him to advance during his career with the Marines, and he counts the day of his enlistment (while still in high school) as the luckiest day of his life. Still, when Nez returned home to New Mexico in 1945, it would be another three years before Native Americans were allowed to vote. Though the last section of the book drifts, readers will be captivated by stories of Nez's childhood and his days as a Marine.