Some of you have told me how much you liked the character John Crowfeather in “Words of Conviction.” This Navajo agent walked into my manuscript unannounced and soon became a favorite of mine. I made him the grandson of a Navajo Code Talker.
This summer, on June 3, the last of the original 29 World War II Code Talkers died. Chester Nez was 93. He told CNN’s Larry King that he joined the Marines in 1942 to “defend the country and my people.” Despite the injustices heaped on Native Americans, he bore no bitterness.
After boot camp, he and the other Navajo Marines developed their code using common words that they could easily remember in the heat of battle. Some were descriptive: “iron fish” (in Navajo) for submarines and “ink sticks” for pens, for example.
When deployed, the Code Talkers worked in teams, one sending and receiving messages, the other cranking the portable radio and listening for errors. There were few of those: During the first two days of the assault on Iwo Jima, six Code Talkers worked around the clock and sent over 800 messages without a single error. A 5th Marine signal officer said later that, without them, the Marines would not have taken the island. The Navajo code is the only verbal military code that has never been broken.
Mr. Nez, like the other Code Talkers, was sworn to secrecy about their work until 1968. Finally, in 2001, he and the other survivors received the Congressional Gold Medal for their service. His 2012 memoir, “Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII” sheds light on the Navajos’ invaluable contribution to our nation. A 2002 movie, “Windtalkers,” fictionalizes their story.
I hope my mention of the Code Talkers in “Words of Conviction” and the depiction of John Crowfeather and his grandfather honors them. (Photo Credit: Jackie Stone)
WHAT’S NEXT? I’m working on the long-awaited sequel to “Bloody Point,” my first published novel. What happens to Jake and Cass? I’ll only tell you this: the story is scaring ME! And bringing tears to my eyes. We anticipate releasing it some time this winter.
I’m also finished the first draft of “Sniper,” the sequel to Seeds of Evidence, and I’ll be pitching it to editors at ACFW this month. Also on the menu, a revision of my first-ever manuscript, “The Tiger’s Cage.”
PLEASE PRAY for spiritual impact for these books. We all need God’s love. Only a few of us know it.