Thursday, July 3, 2014

Deaths: Last of the Original 29 Navajo Code Talkers-- Part 4

Chester Nez and his fellow Navajo recruits were classified as communications specialists by the U.S. 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 tank while a GINI, "chicken hawk" in English, became a dive bomber.  America was NE-HE-MAH, "our mother."

Code Talkers served in all six Marine Divisions and 13 of the original 29 were killed in the war.

Mr. Nez was born Jan. 23, 1921 and was sent to a government boarding school when he was about 9 to learn English.  If he dared speak Navajo at that school he would be punished.

After World War II, he volunteered to serve two more years during the Korean War and retired in 1974 after a 25-year career as a painter for the Veterans Administration hospital in Albuquerque, NM.

--GreGen

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