Historical Society Lecture On Chester Nez Nov. 10

Author Judith Avila with Navajo Code Talker Chester Nez. Courtesy photo  


At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10 at Fuller Lodge in Los Alamos, the Los Alamos Historical Society hosts author Judith Avila as she speaks about Chester Nez and the Navajo Code Talkers. 

This lecture is supported by New Mexico Humanities Council and the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. Avila will be accompanied by Lathan Nez, grandson of Nez, and they will be signing and selling copies of Code Talkers after the lecture.

During World War II, the Japanese managed to crack every code the U. S. military used. But when the Marines turned to their Navajo recruits to develop and implement a secret language, the Navajo men stymied the enemy and helped assure victory for the United States in the South Pacific.

Nez was one of the original 29 Navajo code talkers of WWII, and he was the last of those original Navajo code talkers when he died June 4, 2014. Avila met Nez in 2007 and convinced him that his story needed to be heard. She and Nez conducted three years of interviews, which she recorded and committed to paper. The resulting memoir, Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by one of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII, was released in September 2011 to excellent reviews. 

In his memoir, Nez chronicles his war years and his life growing up on the Checkerboard Area of the Navajo Reservation, and provides an extensive guide to the actual Navajo code. He gives a strikingly open and honest view of the lives of a whole generation of young Native Americans.

Code Talker (Penguin/Berkley – NYC) was named by New Mexico Press Women as 2012’s best memoir, and it won the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. It also was read, in full, on National Public Radio.

Avila is a former air traffic controller and computer consultant. She is a graduate of Duke University. Code Talker, from Penguin (Berkley), is her first published book.  Contact her at judithavila_1@msn.com or visit www.JudithAvila.com.