November 20, 2010

Navajo codetalker writes memoir

Navajo Code Talker Writes Memoir

Only Two of Heroic Group Remain AliveOne of the original Navajo Code Talkers became the first of the group to write his own memoir in hopes that their story will live on after all of them are gone.

During World War II, the United States developed a code in Navajo that couldn't be cracked by the Japanese.

Only two of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers are still alive. Chester Nez, 89, recently finished his memoir that was picked up by Berkley Press last Friday.

"It's something that I remember for a long time, being one of the Navajo Code Talkers," Nez said.
Comment:  Once again we see the "original codetalker" label. Is that really a distinction worth making? Didn't the originals develop the code at Camp Pendleton or somewhere in the States? That was important, but so was implementing the code under fire. Which may explain why many articles don't make the original/unoriginal distinction.

I believe something like 100 of the 400 Navajo codetalkers (original and unoriginal) are still alive. It's not clear whether Nez is the first Navajo codetalker or the first original Navajo codetalker to write a memoir. If he's the first original but the second or fifth or tenth overall, it's not quite as noteworthy.

For more on the subject, see Codetalkers at the Stock Exchange and Choctaw Codetalker Documentary.

1 comment:

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see:

Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII

No doubt about it: Chester Nez is a true American hero. And in a delightful new book, Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII (Berkley Hardcover, 2011), he takes his readers into the under­-explored world of the Navajo code talkers.

This first authentic, detailed, eyewitness account of Navajo code talking ever published is a welcome addition not only to military history in general, but also to the long and distinguished history of Native American military service. Previously the story of the Navajo code talkers, who served in every Marines assault of the Pacific theater from Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima, had only been related in broad terms, with little cultural context. But as Nez makes very clear, these brave and unselfish men used their native DinĂ© language—which they were forbidden to speak in boarding school—to transmit coded messages by telephone and radio. In the process they made an invaluable cultural contribution to the United States’ war effort, with scant thanks or recognition.