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Navajo Code Talker - Window Rock Az
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© Christine Till
As 1942 dawned, World War II was not going well for America and her Allies. Japanese carrier-borne bombers and fighters had crippled the U.S. Navy's proud Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. For the U.S. Armed Forces, communications, which had always been a complex issue, had now become a bewildering problem. Japanese cryptographers were proving themselves amazingly adept at breaking top secret military codes almost as rapidly as newer, more complicated procedures could be devised.
To most listeners, the language is virtually incomprehensible and has been variously likened to the rumble of a moving freight train, the gurgling noises of a partially blocked sink drain, or, jokingly, the resonant thunder of an old-fashioned commode being flushed. As a result, use of the Navajo tongue was confined almost entirely to the reservation; few non-Navajos spoke or understood it. And it was a 'hidden language,' there not yet being an alphabet or written form for others to study. That's why in September 1942 the Navajo Code Talkers Program was established as the result of a recommendation made by Mr. Philip Johnston to Major General Clayton P. Vogel. At Camp Pendleton, the Navajos, in addition to their other duties, were required to devise a new Marine Corps military code which, when transmitted in their own language, would completely baffle their Japanese enemies.
Exactly how the Navajos did their job remained a mystery to many Marine Corps staff officers. However, their proficiency, both under training conditions and later in actual combat, proved that the Navajos were completely reliable. By August 1943, nearly two hundred young Navajos had been trained at the camp. A Japanese general admitted after World War II that the most highly skilled Japanese cryptographers had not been able to decipher the Marines' messages.
August 16th, 2013
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