Last Navajo Code Talker Speaks To Crowd, Says He's 'Proud'

He's the last living original Navajo code talker and he's honoring us with a stop in North Central Wisconsin.

The marines selected Chester Nez as one of only a handful of Navajo recruits to transmit codes in World War II.

At the age of 92 years old, Nez could barely hear on the stage Monday night during the event, but when he could he responded with pride.

He repeated the same words during the presentation: proud to serve our country.

"I want to remember this day," 12-year-old Alex Tyznick said.

Tyznick may had been one of the youngest waiting in line for a photo with Nez after the presentation, but it wasn't the first time he'd heard of Nez. He read Nez's memoir "Code Talker" two years ago when he was 10 years old.

"This particular man, Chester, he had to fight for three years straight," Leah Butterfield said. "I cannot imagine how stressful and hard that is."

Butterfield, who is part Ojibwa, said she felt "so honored" to have met Nez.

Thousands learned Monday night at the University of Wisconsin Marathon County theater that Nez is the last of the original 29 Navajo code talkers of World War II.

"You weren't allowed to tell your family your friends casual acquaintance," co-author of "Code Talker" Judith Avila said during the presentation. "No one was to know about the Navajo code.

During World War II, the Japanese managed to crack every code the U.S. Military used. However, when the marines turned to their Navajo recruits to develop a secret language, the men pulled together for a victory no matter how they treated each other in the past.

One of the organizers, Edgar 5th Grade Teacher Colin Hanson, said Nez was able to attend the presentation thanks to a number of community sponsors.

Hanson said he couldn't believe how dedicated Nez was to America after knowing how the Navajos were treated. He said he respected how the Navajos didn't hold anything against America, and when the U.S. asked them for help during the war, they didn't hesitate to led their gifts and skills to bring the country to a victory.

"To me that's a true hero," Hanson said, "not to look at the past, but say this is going to be better for the future."

Nez answered questions from the audience after the presentation and said he didn't regret joining the Marines.

"I was so happy to be selected to be one of the member (of the Navajo code talkers)," Nez said.

Even though Nez didn't say much, what he did say Monday night was that was proud.

"I'm proud to be able to serve our country and come home alive," Nez said.

No matter how amazing his story is, or how little he spoke at the presentation, his commitment to his country speaks for itself, and it's about making Americans proud, just like little 12-year-old Tyznick.

"I think it's really honorable for him to be here," Tyznick said.

If you want Nez's full story, his book "code talker" is available in both hardcover and paperback copies by co-author Judith Avila.


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