Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Aug. 14 is Navajo Code Talkers Day. Who were they?

Do you remember the movie Windtalkers starring Nicholas Cage? It was about a group of Native Americans who used their language to communicate in World War II's Pacific battles. There were Cherokee, Choctaw, Comanche, Meskwaki, and Navajos.

Page, Arizona is located northwest of the Navajo Reservation in Northern Arizona and we celebrate on August, 14, the bravery, heroism and courage of the Navajo Code Talkers.

Page is at the Northwestern Corner

At the start of WWII, Philip Johnston, a WWI veteran proposed to the U.S. Marine Corps the use of Navajo. He was the son of missionaries and because he was raised in the Navajo Reservation, he was one of a few non-Navajo people who spoke their language fluently.

Navajo has complex grammar and at that time it was an unwritten language. The military was in need of an undecipherable code to outsmart the Japanese.

2012 marks the 70th anniversary of the initial recruitment of the Navajo Code Talkers. 

It is estimated that at the beginning of World War II, less than 30 non-Navajos could understand the language.

Navajo Code Talkers, Saipan, June 1944
In simulated combat tests, Navajos could take a 3-line English message, encode, transmit and decode it in 20 seconds which by far beat the 30 minutes that a machine at that time would take.  With those results, 200 Navajos were recruited, the first 29 entering boot camp in May 1942.
Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima. ~Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division signal officer. 
The recruitment and use of the Navajo Code Talkers continued through the Korean War until it was ended early during the Vietnam war.

The Navajo Code Talkers Association founded in 2009 by a group of surviving Navajo Code Talkers, based in Window Rock, AZ, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the eduction of future generations about the history, ideals and heroic accomplishments in World War II by the Navajo Code Talkers.

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