Code Talkers

American Indian Navajo: WWII

Problems Over Seas

Before the United States entered WWII there was an attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. After the attack the U.S. decided to join the war and protect their people. The war between the U.S. and Japan had begun. In the Pacific there were messages always trying to get to everyone, it was a very hard task due to Japanese listeners. The Japanese would break into the messages and find out what the United States was planning. One day a man that had fought in WWI was reading about these Japanese code crackers and came up with a solution. Phillip Johnson sent a letter to Lieutenant Jones stating his idea of using a native language that was very complicated that only the Navajo Indians spoke.

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The Beginning of the Navajo Language

After Lieutenant Jones listened to what Johnson had to say he was willing to give this idea a shot, because the military was consistently changing their codes even in 1942. Johnson went to the reservation to look for men to help him. He return to Camp Elliot with four men. When put to the task to translate and send a message the men had completed the task, dumbfounding the Generals at camp. With the example being a success they decided to more forward with this plan.

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Moving forward with the plan Generals and and other important men in the Marine were sent to the Navajo reservation in the southeast to gather men to be their new code messengers. The men needed to be fluent in both their native language and English, along with being fit and of a decent age. The first group they had taken were all volunteers. The next step was to take them to camp for training with all the other Marines. After the basic training Generals started to realize that the Navajos could with stand the heat while other soldiers were not able to keep up. The Natives had proved themselves to the doubters, they were good and efficient with what they did.

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Not only were the natives in charge of making sure proper messages were sent they also had to fight in combat along with everyone else. August 1943 there were around 200 Navajos in the Marines. While in combat in the jungle the Marines were working with the Army. Many natives were taken by the Army not knowing they were working along with them. During the war the military saw how important it was to have these men work with them. The Navajos language was never cracked, thanks to their language they helped America stay safer.