Last of original Navajo code talkers Chester Nez dies at 93

By Kyle Johnson,

Chester Nez, who was the last of the original Navajo code talkers, passed away of kidney failure at the age of 93 on Wednesday at his Albuquerque home.

His death was confirmed by Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, reports CNN. "The Navajo Nation flags will all be lowered to half-mast in honor of our hero passing away."

Nez was just a teenager when he signed up as one of the original 29 Navajos to help create the code used during World War II and he was assigned to the 382nd Marine Corps Platoon.

During the war, they had to keep their job a secret, and it wasn't until 1968 that what they did was finally declassified and Nez could tell his family what he did.

According to The Associated Press. the 29 Navajo recruited were given 13 weeks to develop the initial code, during which they came up with 200 terms.

Nez, who was still in 10th grade when he enlisted, told CNN back in 2011 that the code talkers decided to use "everyday Navajo words" in an effort to "memorize and retain the words easily."

He added, "I think that made our job easier, and I think it helped us to be successful in the heat of battle."

In 2001, all 29 original Navajo code talkers were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

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