NENA Honors Original Navajo Code Talker
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
On Wednesday, May 4, during the opening general session of the New Mexico Public Safety Telecommunicators Association Conference, NENA President, Steve O’Conor, ENP, presented the Presidential Award to Chester Nez, an Original Navajo Code Talker.
"Mr. Nez is both a national hero and a national treasure,” said O’Conor. "As the last surviving member of the original group of Code Talkers, NENA and the New Mexico Chapter were ecstatic to have Mr. Nez on hand to honor him and recognize his contribution to emergency communications during a time of national crisis.”
During World War II, the Navajo Code Talkers developed codes built upon their native language to transmit secret tactical messages for the United States Marine Corps. They transmitted these messages over military telephone or radio communications nets and enhanced the communications security of vital front line operations, mainly in the Pacific Theater. The Code Talkers were commended for their skill, speed, and accuracy.
At the Battle of Iwo Jima, Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division Signal Officer, had six Navajo Code Talkers working around the clock during the first two days of the battle. These six sent and received more than 800 messages, all without error. Connor later stated, "Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima."