Chester Nez, Navajo Code Talker Grand Marshal for Fair Parade

By Roberta John

Navajo elders are priceless treasures.
And once in a grey moon, you may be fortunate to meet a Navajo hero who is nearly one century year-old.

Chester Nez, Navajo Code Talker

 Chester Nez in  1942

The most prominent Navajo hero today is undoubtedly 90-year-old Navajo Code Talker Chester Nez from Jones Ranch, New Mexico. Nez is the only living member left of the original 29 U.S. Marine Corps 382nd Platoon who used the Navajo language to develop an unbreakable secret code in World War II to defeat the Japanese.

Nez will be the grand marshal for the 66th Annual Navajo Nation Fair Parade, which will incorporate the theme “Appreciating Tradition.” The Navajo Nation Fair is the “Largest American Indian Fair” in North America.

For the first time in the fair’s history, the public
submitted nominations for the parade grand marshal and a new category, celebrity grand marshal.

The celebrity grand marshal will be Darlene Yazzie who is an on-air radio host for KTNN (a tribal radio station owned by the Navajo Nation).

It was a natural to select Nez as the grand marshal who was an unsung Navajo hero for many years while Yazzie is well-known throughout grassroot Navajos as a hallmark for helping to increase awareness about traditional Navajo culture. In prior years, Navajo Nation Fair staff and the parade committee made the selection.

Navajo Nation Fair Manager Norma Bowman, said, “We decided to let the public get involved in the parade grand marshal nomination – I think they made an excellent choice.

We’re very happy and honored to have Mr. Chester Nez, the last living original Navajo Code Talker join us during the Navajo Nation Fair parade. This will be a rare opportunity for everyone to see and meet Mr. Nez.”

Bowman added, “There’s nothing more fitting than to have Mr. Nez as our grand marshal because we appreciate all of our veterans for their dedication and service so we can enjoy our freedom and have events such as the Navajo Nation Fair. This will be a great time to pay tribute to our Navajo elders and celebrate their accomplishments.”

The Navajo Code Talkers never fail to awe. Perhaps the 66th Annual Navajo Nation Fair may end up being the most memorable since Nez is the only original Navajo Code Talker still alive.

Bowman noted, “The overall population of the Navajo Nation is young so we are always very happy and honored to have elders participate in a host of events that we sponsor or who choose to just enjoy the Navajo Nation Fair. Our elders are precious and full of wisdom – they provide us a glimpse of the past and are the key to our future.”


Chester Nez – Navajo Code Talker – Living History
Nez Navajo Code Talker & Harold Carey

 Chester Nez Navajo Code Talker & Harold Carey

His Book:

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

Book Description

 He is the only original World War II Navajo code talker still alive—and this is his story . . .

His name wasn’t Chestesr Nez. That was the English name he was assigned in kindergarten. And in boarding school at Fort Defiance, he was punished for speaking his native language, as the teachers sought to rid him of his culture and traditions. But discrimination didn’t stop Chester from answering the call to defend his country after Pearl Harbor, for the Navajo have always been warriors, and his upbringing on a New Mexico reservation gave him the strength—both physical and mental—to excel as a marine.

During World War II, the Japanese had managed to crack every code the United States used. But when the Marines turned to its Navajo recruits to develop and implement a secret military language, they created the only unbroken code in modern warfare—and helped assure victory for the United States over Japan in the South Pacific.


  1. Hello my name is Naomi Henio and I am doing an school project on the code talkers. So, how can i get a hold of Chester Nez to ask him a few questions. My email is

  2. Sandie Isaacs says

    I am an elementary school librarian in Ft. Worth, TX. I would like to locate someone from this area who could speak to fourth/fifth grade students about the importance/contributions of the Navajo Code Talkers to America’s freedom and success in WWII. My father, also a WW II veteran, spoke highly of the Navajo Code Talkers and how vital they were to our success in the war.

    We have a Veterans Day parade every year and it would be a privilege to have representation from the Code Talkers.

  3. Lee TAylor says

    My sincerest gratitude for your service (as well as all of the Code Talkers) to this country. Although today is a good day, your passing is mourned. My condolences to your family, may you rest in peace, and may God bless you. Thank you for your service Sir. Semper Fi!

  4. As a coauthor of Autobiography OF A Freedom Rider I recognize Chester Nez Navajo as a true hero. My coauthor, Natalie Bell, and I would like to thank Chester Nez for his remarkable service to this country. May Blessings continue to flow your way and may peace be with you always.
    Thomas Armstrong
    Natalie Bell

  5. Tom Yazzie says

    Thank you Chester for all you have done for our people and the country. I just ordered your book from Amazon and I can’t wait to read it. Both of my parents went to Sherman Indian high school in Riverside and when they were young they too got punished for speaking their own language. They both told me similar stories about that. I am 100% full blood Navajo and I am retired. I worked for Coca Cola in Southern California for 31 years. I now live in Minnesota. I wish that I would have attended the Navajo Nation fair last month and got to meet you. My grandmothers house is directly across the highway from the civic center. I remember being raised at her house with no electricity or running water. Thank you again from Tom Yazzie

  6. Richard and Constance Wessel says

    Thank you Chester Nez for your service to your country.
    Navajos continue the Warrior Tradition. Our daughter-in-law, Sylvia Keyonnie Wessel, served in Iraq.
    Blessings to you and yours.