Last of Original Group of Navajo Code Talkers Dies
   2014-06-08 09:21:10    APTN      Web Editor: Jiang

This Oct. 3, 2009, file photo shows Navajo Code Talker Chester Nez speaking to a woman outside an Albuquerque, N.M., tourist shop during a book signing event for "Navajo Weapon." Nez, the last of the 29 Navajos who developed an unbreakable code that helped win World War II, died Wednesday morning, June 4, 2014, of kidney failure at his home in Albuquerque. He was 93. [Photo: Felicia Fonseca/Imagine China]

The last of the 29 Navajos who developed a code that stumped the Japanese during World War II died on Wednesday, aged 93.

Chester Nez, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, died on Wednesday morning of kidney failure, said Judy Avila, who helped Nez write his memoirs.

Before hundreds of men from the Navajo Nation became Code Talkers, 29 Navajos were recruited to develop the code based on the then-unwritten Navajo language.

Nez was in 10th grade when he enlisted, keeping his decision a secret from his family and lying about his age, as did many others.

Using Navajo words for red soil, war chief, clan, braided hair, beads, ant and hummingbird, for example, the code talkers came up with a glossary of more than 200 terms that later was expanded and an alphabet.

The code proved impenetrable as at the time few non-Navajos spoke the language, and even Navajos who did couldn't understand the code.

The Navajos trained in radio communications were walking copies of the code and each message read aloud by a Code Talker was immediately destroyed.

After World War II, Nez volunteered to serve two more years during the Korean War.

He retired in 1974 after a 25-year career as a painter at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Albuquerque.

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