Yazzie, Begay, Nez, Bitah, and Tsosie are Navajo sir names that are seen frequently on posters and billboards on the Navajo Reservation. The names of towns and mesas recall to mind their specific details and rock formations as we have driven by them on this trip. We have been in a reconstructed hogan at Salmon Ruins. Maybe these are the reasons in which I was drawn in and able to relate to Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII by Nez, Chester, Schiess Avila, Judith (2011). The recollections of the Long Walk of the Navajo, The Live Stock Massacre, cruel matrons and life as an eight year old child at boarding school are just the beginning. The detail in which battles in the pacific are recounted and the struggles to fight off battle fatigue as Mr. Nez attempts to reintegrate into civilian life after the war with no recognition for his heroism or even being cleared to tell his family exactly what he had done in the war.
Code Talker is a fairly easy read and leaves you with a desire to learn more about World War II, the Navajo people, Code Talkers, and the Geography of the Pacific Islands. As I finished reading this book this afternoon I decided to search YouTube for Chester Nez and it has quite a bit. After watching a few recent news clips I was shocked to note the date of his death was so resent. Wednesday June 4th, 2014, this very week. I was reading his book on Wednesday as we camped in Colorado…now he is gone…the last living of the original 29 Code Talkers. A piece of living history, Chester Nez, with the help of Judith Schiess Avila, has made a memoir that will allow the Code Talkers to continue to tell their story to the generations to come.