Navajo, the Code Talkers The Navajo code talkers took part in every assault the U. S. Marines conducted in the Pacific on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Peleiu, and Iwo Jima from 1942 to 1945. They served in all six Marine divisions, Marine parachute units and Marine Raider battalions, transmitting important messages by radio and telephone in their native language—a code that the Japanese never broke during the war. Philip Johnston, a former missionary’s son who once lived on the Navajo Reservation was responsible for recruiting the Navajos. Knowing the complex phases and intricate tonal qualities of the native language.
His plan was to devise a code utilizing the complex unwritten language of the Navajo; he convinced the Marines it would baffle the best of the cryptographers. Johnston knew that the Native American languages-notably Choctaw-had been used in World War I to encode messages. He said the language could be used as the basis for a code to transmit battle plans and vital messages. The idea to use the Navajo language to secure communities also came from Johnston; back on the Navajo reservation where Johnston once lived on was World War I veteran who knew of the military’s search for a code that would withstand all of the best attempts to decipher it.
With the assistants of the Navajo, the occupation of creating code terms was underway. Navajo words were selected to describe complex military equipment and operations. Where possible, words were selected that had a logical association with the desired military terms. Thurs Navajo words like frog became amphibious for operations, and an American became “nihima”. Philip Johnston believed the Navajo’s unwritten language of complexity had solved the military’s requirement for an undecipherable code.
Its syntax and tonal qualities, not mention dialects makes it incomprehensible to most without extensive training and exposure of the native language. It has neither written alphabet nor symbols, and is spoken only on the Navajo lands of the American Southwest. An estimate took during the war indicated that less than 30 non-Navajo, none of the Japanese, understood the language at the outbreak of World War II. During the early 1942, Johnston met with the commanding general of Amphibious Corps, and the Pacific Fleet; Major General Clayton B.
Vogel and his staff to convince them of the Navajo’s valuable language to be used as a code. Johnston staged test under simulating combat conditions, to demonstrate that the Navajos could encode, transmit, and decode a three-line English message in 20 seconds. Machines of the time required a seemly impossible 30 minutes to perform the same simple task of the Navajos. Convinced, by the results Major General Vogel recommended to the Commandant of the Marine Corps that the Marines recruit 200 Navajos immediately. In May 1942, the first 29 Navajo recruits attended boot camp.
Then, at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, California, this first group created the Navajo code basis. They developed a dictionary and numerous words for military terms. The dictionary and all of the codes had to be memorized during training; once the code talker completed his training, he was sent to a Marine unit for deployment in the Pacific. The primary job of the Navajo code talkers was talking, and transmitting information on troop movement, tactics, supply movement, orders, and other vital battlefield commutations over telephones and radios.
They also performed general duties as a Marine. In 1942 there were about 50,000 Navajo tribe members. By 1945, about five hundred and forty Navajos served as Marines. From 375 to 420 of those were trained as code talkers; the serve in other occupations. The Japanese, who were very skilled code breakers, remained baffled by the Navajo language. The Japanese chief of intelligence, Lieutenant General Seizo Arisue, said that while they were able to decipher the codes used by the U. S. Army and Army Air Corps, they never cracked the code used by the Marines.
The Navajo code talkers even captured a Navajo soldier taken prisoner at Bataan (The prisoner was not trained to decode the Navajo language code). At the time about 25 Navajos served in the U. S. Army in the Philippines. Navajo remained potentially valuable as a code even after World War II due to it ever being decoded by enemy forces. For that every reason the code talkers skill and courage saved American lives and military supplies and man-power during conflicts and skirmishes, only recently those men earned recognition from the Government and the U.
S. public for they actions in World War II. Thanks to those brave men who volunteered their lives in the nation’s time of need and the code that was created by the notable Navajo language that was never corrupted, broken, or destroyed by the Japanese. We were able to defend the Japanese imperial forces. Navajo, the Code Talkers http://www. google. com Microsoft Encarta 2006 http://www. historynet. com/world-war-II http://wikipedia. org/wiki/code-talkers. com