During WWII, the US government needed to devise a new way to communicate through codes. The military had been successful in using Native American languages during WWII, but after Germany and Japan sent students to the United States to learn those languages, the United States could no longer depend on the security of their old system of coding. Eventually, the US Army decided on the Navajo language to be their new system. The Navajo language is so complex that the military hoped they could utilize it for top-secret military codes. Here are three facts that you might not know about the Navajo Code Talkers of WWII.
It Started with Just 29 Men
In 1942, 29 Navajo men gathered at Camp Pendleton in California. Their task was to develop a code based entirely on the Navajo language. One of the reasons that the Navajo language was chosen is that there is no written form—it is based entirely on verbal communication. That meant that there would be no written form of the language for the enemy to gather information from. Another reason it was chosen was that only native Navajo Indians knew the language. Since that number was dwindling, the government felt confident that the code would remain with those 29 men.
The Code Was Unbreakable
Once the basic code was developed, the US army wanted to make sure that it would be unbreakable. To ensure that, the 29 code talkers took their code and created two additional layers of security to it.
The Navajo code talkers took basic words from their own language and applied them directly to war terms. For instance, names of birds were used to identify various war planes.
Knowing that some words used in war could not be attached to Navajo words, the code talkers created a letter recognition code. This allowed them to spell out words using assigned letters in the code.
Code Talkers Were Used Throughout the Asian Theater
Once the Navajo code talkers had perfected their code, they were put to work translating and transmitting secret messages throughout the Asian theater. Code talkers were sent out into battle with infantry units to maintain the lines of communication between incoming and outgoing codes. Research shows that the Navajo code talkers sent and received more than 800 messages during the first few days of the battle at Iwo Jima, and none of them contained errors.
Navajo code talkers were a vital part of WWII. Without their codes, the US government would not have been able to translate or transmit vital secret messages. Studying Native American history will allow you to learn more about the Navajo code talkers and their contribution to the US victories during WWII.Share