Breaking

The Navajo Code Talkers and their unbreakable code, 1942-1945


Every combatant highly appreciated the need for an unbreakable code that would help them communicate while protecting their operational plans. The US military knew where to find it: the Navajo Nation. Philip Johnston, a civil engineer from the City of Los Angeles, proposed the use of the Navajo language to the United States Marine Corps at the beginning of World War II.

Johnston, a World War I veteran, was raised on the Navajo Reservation as the son of a Navajo missionary and was one of a small number of non-Navajos who spoke the language fluently.

This idea was not without precedent. Both Cherokee and Choctaw soldiers effectively used their native languages ​​to send coded messages to the Western Front during the final months of World War I. The Corps accepted Johnston's offer, and recommended the immediate recruitment of 200 Navajo to develop a code.

Marine Corps leadership selected 29 Navajo men, Navajo Code Talkers, who created a code based on the complex, unwritten Navajo language. The code primarily used the word union by specifying Navajo words for key phrases and military tactics. This system enabled Code Talkers to translate three lines of English in 20 seconds, not 30 minutes as was common with existing code-breaking machines.

The Code Talkers participated in every major maritime operation in the Pacific theater, giving the Marines a significant advantage throughout the war.


For example, during the nearly month-long Battle for Iwo Jima, six Navajo Code Talker Marines successfully transmitted over 800 messages without error. The Marine leadership noted after the war that the Code Talkers were vital to the victory at Iwo Jima.

As the war went on, some 400 Navajo were recruited and trained in the code. Even when the Japanese managed to capture and torture Navajo Sergeant Joe Kiyumiya, they couldn't crack it – although he spoke Navajo, he wasn't trained to code, so encrypted messages could be translated into words. is read as an indecent mess.

Code talkers from over a dozen other tribes such as the Seminole, Comanche and Meskwaki were deployed as code talkers in more limited numbers in Europe and North Africa. Many Code Talkers returned home to face discrimination, hardship and the long trauma of war from the war.

He was not even allowed to speak about the invaluable role he played until the Code Operations were declassified in 1968. In 2001, the original 29 creators of the Navajo Code were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.




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