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G-2 Intelligence, Code Talkers

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During WWI, the Choctaw language had been used to transmit U.S. military messages. With this thought in mind, Philip Johnston, the son of a missionary grew up on a Navajo reservation and spoke the DinĂ© tongue fluently, brought the suggestion of a similar code to General Clayton Vogel early in 1942. The DinĂ© language has no alphabet, uses no symbols and one sound may hold an entire concept. The idea was tested and proved to be faster and more reliable than the mechanized methods. The language has more verbs than nouns, that helps to move the sentences along and makes it far more difficult for outsiders to learn – making it the most ingenious and successful code in military history.

platoon

The original class, the 382d Platoon, Navajo Communication Specialists, USMC, developed their code at Camp Pendleton. Once a unit of code talkers were trained, they were put on Marine rosters around the Pacific Theater. Even under severe combat conditions, they remained the living codes, since nothing was ever written down. During the first 48 hours of Iwo Jima, 800 transmissions were coded. These few men became warriors in their own right during some of the worst battles of the war.

running wire during combat

running wire during combat

Some examples of the English word/ Navajo sound/ literal translation:

Alaska………. Beh-hga……….. with winter
America……….Ne-he-mah……… our mother
Britain……….Toh-ta………… between waters
Australia……..Cha-yes-desi…….rolled hat
China…………Ceh-yehs-besi……braided hair
France………..Da-gha-hi……….beard

Code Talker Seal

The existence of the code talkers and their accomplishments would remain top secret according to the U.S. government and use their expertise in the Korean War. Unfortunately, this resulted in many of the men not receiving the recognition they deserved. I was very lucky to have grown up knowing their story thanks to Smitty, my father. Congress eventually passed the Code Talkers Recognition Act on 18 June 2002.

Choctaw code talkers

Choctaw code talkers

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Farewell Salutes:

Sam D’Agostino – from Brooklyn, NY served with the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War

David Holder – from Newark, NJ, served in the U.S. Air Force during WWII as a navigator

John Angelo Viani – from Alpharetta, GA and W. Palm Bch., FL; served 20 years in the U.S. Navy in both Atlantic and Pacific

Raymond A. Borland – from Ft. Pierce, FL served the U.S. Air Force in the Korean War

Palmlee Noel Howe – from Lake Worth, FL, U.S. Navy 1948-54 aboard the USS Lake Champlain

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Resources: Codetalkers.org; Nativetelecom.org; wrscouts.com; Navajocodetalkers.org; alicestockwellegan.wordpress.com; The Palm Beach Post

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