Edited by Gerald Boerner
Just like the Code Breakers at Bletchley Park were hidden from outside view, so was our secret code weapon in the Pacific theatre of World War II. What weapon was this? The Atomic Bomb? Well, that was hidden from the Japanese, but I am referring to the use of the Navaho language and Native-speakers of that language from the reservations in Arizona. This language was not known to those outside of the reservation and the use of it by those learning it as adults was distinguishable from those who learned it in their youth. It was, therefore, an ideal vehicle for transmitting tactical command information between those in the trenches on the Pacific Islands and those commanders on board of naval vessels.
What was the advantage of using these Cold Talkers? For one thing, the code association of military materiel, such as tanks, even if written down and lost to the enemy, would not enable the enemy to know what was being transmitted between ship and shore. Additionally, the Code Talkers could speak directly over a phone link without fear of being intercepted and translated since the enemy did not understand the Navaho language, or even know that the Navaho language was being used. Finally, effective communication could be maintained and tactical information shared without fear of compromise. This was an almost ideal situation for our troops!
The unfortunate outcome was that these brave men were not publicly recognized until 1982 when Ronald Reagan recognized their contribution. After the war, they returned to their reservations and led their normal lives without reward or even a “Thank You” from our government. By the time that their deeds were recognized, many of their numbers had died. We need to be more sensitive to the contributions of these minority groups who provide so much to the protection of our great country.
But, let’s proceed with our exploration of the Code Talkers and the techniques that they employed… GLB
These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved
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Quotations Related to Code Talkers:
“Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima.”
— Major Howard Connor
“Navajo Code Talkers played an important role in creating a code that the Japanese could not break.”
— Katrena Wells, suite101.com
“(1) It is an unwritten language of extreme complexity. (2) It’s syntax , tonal qualities and dialects make it extremely baffling to anyone who hasn’t been taught it. (3) And, they were fast!”
— Major General Clayton B. Vogel on the Navajo language