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National Navajo Code Talkers Day

National Navajo Code Talkers Day is celebrated on August 14th. This is a special day for us to remember a group of volunteers who were instrumental in helping us win many battles in WWII.

Phillip Johnston had been a WWI veteran, and he knew how important it was for our country to have a code that could not be broken by the enemy. He was the son of a missionary to the Navajos, and growing up he learned the language.

Phillip also knew that the Choctaw Indian language had been used during WWI and in 1942; he suggested to Major General Clayton Vogel that they should use the Navajo’s language as code in WWII.

The Navajo’s language is an unwritten language which is extremely complex. Its syntax, tonal qualities and dialects can be extremely baffling to anyone who hasn’t been taught the language. Another advantage they had with the Navajo language is that messages could be decoded very fast.

Volunteers, who knew both English and Navajo were chosen, and they worked together to create the code within their own language. In May of 1942, the first 29 Navajo recruits were sent to Camp Pendleton and received training in Morse code, semaphore, military-style messages, wire laying, and to learn all about radios. Later, they created their own dictionary.

The Code Talkers were so vital to the Marine Corps during WWII that they had one or two men guarding them at all times. From 1942 to 1945, they took part in every US Marine assault conducted in the Pacific. As Major General Howard Connor said, “Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would have never taken Iwo Jima”. The General had six Navajo Code talkers working around the clock during the first 48 hours of battle. During that battle, they sent, coded, and decoded a total of 800 messages, all with no errors!