With the passing of Chester Nez, the last of the original 29 "code talkers", Navajo marines who developed an unbreakable code based on their native language, we are once again reminded of the contributions of groups of Americans who were otherwise marginalized. Nez and his fellow marines will go down in history not only for their singular technical achievement of creating a code that the Japanese could not break, but also because of their unselfish desire to serve the country they could easily have resented.
Yes, now that Chester Nez has passed away, he will be written into the history books for being a code talker, because the history books always remember a person in an ideal way. And in Chester's case, what he did for the United States in World War II, he deserves to be memorialized. He used his native tongue to create an unbreakable code. He is a war hero.
Effective and private communication across the battle field has always been a vital key to military success. Intercepting messages and cracking encoded communication can give the opposing force and edge. Chester Nez and his fellow Navajo code talkers were responsible for putting their lives at risk for their country and offering their Navajo language as an unbreakable code. The code baffled the Japanese and Korean alike and saved many American lives. Chester was the last of these of called Code Talkers, all of which have been recognized and praised by the American people and government. In a country where the Native American communities have suffered so much by their fellow country-men, it is long overdue that Chester Nez and the other Navajo code talkers be remembered and honored for their courageous exploits.
The code talkers are likely to be remembered in the history books as a key and unique group of people that helped hugely with the war effort. However it is very unlikely for Chester Nez to be specifically remembered by name. If he was to be mentioned, all the other code talkers should be mentioned by name and no history book is going to list 29 names.