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American Heritage: Honoring the ‘Code Talkers’

 

 

America has just celebrated Veterans Day, remembering and honoring those who have served in various capacities in all branches of the Armed Forces, from the American Revolution until today.

In recognition of a special group that saved untold lives and ensured Allied victory in World War II, a story that reminds us of the unique and invaluable peoples that make up the People of the United States – the Navajo ‘Code Talkers’.

 

Navajo “Code Talkers” Remember Their Role in WWII

The “code talkers” were an elite group that were key to military efforts during the war.

Navajo is a language that few people understand or speak. But, it was key to the U.S. military efforts in World War II.

Navajo volunteers were an elite group recruited by the Marines to create the only unbroken code in modern military history. At the time, the young men did not know that the Japanese had been able to break U.S. military codes.

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Code Talker Seal

 

Learn more about the ‘Code Talkers’, Navajo and other Native American Tribes who helped the U.S. Military in World War I and World War II:

Navajo code talkers, Saipan, June 1944

Official Website of the Navajo Code Talkers
FOUNDED IN 2009 by a small group of surviving Navajo Code Talkers, the Navajo Code Talkers Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to educating current and future generations about the history, ideals, and heroic accomplishments in World War II by the Navajo Code Talkers.

Navajo Code Talkers
Website of Senator Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico

Navajo Code Talkers: World War II Fact Sheet
Naval History and Heritage Command
Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Peleliu, Iwo Jima: the Navajo code talkers took part in every assault the U.S. Marines conducted in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945. They served in all six Marine divisions, Marine Raider battalions and Marine parachute units, transmitting messages by telephone and radio in their native language a code that the Japanese never broke.

Navajo ‘Code Talker’s Dictionary

Native American Medal of Honor Recipients
In the 20th century, eight American Indians have been among those soldiers to be distinguished by receiving the United States’ highest military honor: the Medal of Honor. Given for military heroism “above and beyond the call of duty,” these warriors exhibited extraordinary bravery in the face of the enemy and, in two cases, made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

American Indians In The U.S. Army – Code Talkers
Napoleon once said, “the secret of war lies in the communications.” If he were around today, he might have revised it to, “secure communications.”

During World Wars I and II, the military needed a quick and reliable means of protecting its radio, telephone and telegraphic messages from enemy intelligence. American Indian tribes had their own languages and dialects that few outside the tribes understood, and many of their languages were not even written down. Their languages were ideal for the task at hand and fortunately, a large number of Indians had joined the armed forces.

President Bush presenting the Congressional Medal of Honor to John Brown July 26, 2001

Navajo Code Talkers – They Talked Navajo – “dine’ bi-zaad choz’-idd”
On July 26, 2002 the original 29 Code Talkers were presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush. This long awaited recognition occurred 56 years after World War II despite the fact that the Code saved thousands of lives. The Code had been de-classified in 1968.

Uncracked Code
1942: Navajo Code Talkers – Marines The Few The Proud
During World War II, coded radio transmission was the fastest way to deliver commands to units oversea. Cryptographers on both sides became adept at intercepting and decoding their opponents’ transmissions. In 1942, the Marine Corps found a new way to keep their communications secure with the Navajo Code Talkers.

 

Comanche code-talkers of the 4th Signal Company (U.S. Army Signal Center and Ft. Gordon)

Code Talker

Code talkers was a term used to describe people who talk using a coded language. It is frequently used to describe 400 Native American Marines who served in the United States Marine Corps whose primary job was the transmission of secret tactical messages. Code talkers transmitted these messages over military telephone or radio communications nets using formal or informally developed codes built upon their native languages. Their service improved communications in terms of speed of encryption at both ends in front line operations during World War II.

The name code talkers is strongly associated with bilingual Navajo speakers specially recruited during World War II by the Marines to serve in their standard communications units in the Pacific Theater. Code talking, however, was pioneered by Choctaw Indians serving in the U.S. Army during World War I. These soldiers are referred to as Choctaw Code Talkers.

French Chevalier of the National Order of Merit awarded Comanche code-talkers WWII

Other Native American code talkers were deployed by the United States Army during World War II, including Cherokee, Choctaw, Lakota Meskwaki, and Comanche soldiers. Soldiers of Basque ancestry were used for code talking by the U.S. Marines during World War II in areas where other Basque speakers were not expected to be operating.

Adolf Hitler knew about the successful use of code talkers during World War I. He sent a team of some thirty anthropologists to learn Native American languages before the outbreak of World War II. However, it proved too difficult for them to learn the many languages and dialects that existed.

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Choctaws in training in World War I for coded radio and telephone transmissions.

 
 

 

The Navajo Code Talkers, Our Heroes

 

 

Untold Stories Of The Second World War: The Navajo(Part 1)

 

Untold Stories Of The Second World War: The Navajo(Part 2)

 

Untold Stories Of The Second World War: The Navajo(Part 3)

 

The World’s Greatest Codes: Tribal Code Talkers and World War II

The World’s Greatest Codes: Tribal Code Talkers and World War II from max benning on Vimeo.

 
 

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