LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) -
With the passing of the last code talker, East Texas World War II veterans are remembering the lifesaving contributions of an elite group of Native Americans, known as "The Wind Talkers."
Chester Nez, the last member of the World War II Navajo code talkers, passed away Tuesday at the age of 93.
He was one of twenty-nine soldiers credited with creating the Navajo-based code used to disguise military communications during the war.
"I was sad when I heard. There would be more of us dead, if it hadn't been for them guys," says World War II Air Force veteran Puett L. Wilcox.
Wilcox was shot down over Germany and became a prisoner of war, and says the native American communicators were a stroke of genius.
"What a brilliant idea.We heard a lot about them; we never met them. Every once in a while we'd get a message and these crazy words, you know. So it must have been true that they were using native American code talkers," he says.
Louis Evans was at Guadalcanal, and says the code talkers saved countless Marine lives.
"Well, they were everything. They were indispensable, because we passed the word, and the word was kept secret by the code talkers," Evans says.
Native American language baffled enemy code-breakers, and was vitally important in keeping communications secure, and the code talkers had a natural toughness.
"They were actually talented people. They were able to take suffering and pain without flinching," says Evans.
Chester Nez acted as a code-talker during the battles of Guadalcanal and Guam, and also served in Korea. He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2001.