Kansas University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will present a degree next week to a World War II Navajo Code Talker who had to withdraw from KU 60 years ago after three years of studies.
Chester Nez, 91, will receive his degree during a ceremony set for 11 a.m. Monday in the Lied Center Pavilion. The event is part of Native Heritage Month activities at KU, and it will be free and open to anyone.
Nez, a Marine veteran, left KU in 1952 after three years as a student, unable to pay to complete his education after he exhausted his GI Bill funding. He left for New Mexico to find work.
What no one knew then was that he had been one of the original 29 Code Talkers in the all-Navajo 382nd Marine Platoon, who created a code language that would be used by a total of 420 platoon members during the war.
According to a KU release, Nez is the lone living member of those original 29.
Kansas First Lady Mary Brownback will also take part in the ceremony Monday, and Nez will receive gifts from the city of Lawrence, the KU Alumni Association, Haskell Indian Nations University and the Native Faculty and Staff Council at KU.