This is a very cool video.

Apparently, there was code translating machines but they weren’t that fast.  The “telegraphic” code words in the unwritten Navajo language, with their memorized meanings, meant that coms were very fast.

During WWI the Choctaw language was used for tactical messages.   Meanwhile, Japan and Germany had sent people to these USA to study native languages!   However, there was Navajo, which is really complicated.

400 Navajo were in the Code Talker program, in all 6 Marine Divisions.   The Japanese had cracked the codes for the Army and Army Air Corps, but not the Marines.   There was even a Navajo captured by the Japanese, but he couldn’t make it out.

Code Talkers were at Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pelilieu and Iwo Jima.  Major Howard Connor, signal officer of the Navajos at Iwo Jima, said, “Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima.”

More at the Naval History and Heritage Command. HERE

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. JustaSinner says:

    How many Marines died to save how many Army Air Corp personnel?

  2. Andreas says:

    MANY thanks for this, Father Z. As a not-long-ago retired Navy Officer, I am humbled and much moved by remarkable accounts such as that narrated in this video. During these days of madness in some of our streets and even in some otherwise hallowed halls, such stories are balsam for the soul. It reminds us again to recognize the acts of true heroes such as this gentleman and his many brothers in arms, now of a generation becoming ever smaller in number. Despite whatever inequities that may have existed and hardships they might have faced (and I am certain there must have been many), they did not show disdain for God, country or its cherished principles. My heartfelt BZ and thanks to the Code Talkers and, indeed, to all who (in whatever capacity) have in the past served and today continue to serve for the greater good.

  3. Elizium23 says:

    I work in cybersecurity, and this is exciting stuff! Legendary. There is a colossal Code Talker statue nearby that won’t be vandalized anytime soon.

    Meanwhile, our own government works to cripple strong encryption, to backdoor it “for law enforcement”, and to generally work to make sure these USA lead from behind where there is innovation and security.

  4. Katherine says:

    Hearing that distinctive language caught me by surprise and choked me up for a minute. I lived on the Navajo Res in the late 80s—taught school at St. Michaels near Window Rock, the capital of the Navajo Nation. For me, a product of suburbia and US military base housing, landing there was a beautiful culture shock. Here are a few of my observations:
    Modern Indians, in everyday wear, dress like Cowboys (NOT Indians!)—big silver belt buckles, big cowboy hats, boots, and western-style shirts with pearl buttons.
    Navajo Indians often point with their lips. Keeping arms crossed, and facing you directly, a Navajo might say, “Go downd over dere,” then point with his lips to where down over there might be without moving the rest of his face.
    Navajo Indians are the most fiercely patriotic Americans I have ever met. They deeply love being Americans.
    You could buy a single cigarette, one at a time, at any gas station on the Navajo Res.
    The Navajo Indians are also the most pro-life/pro-family people I have ever met. The first time a baby laughs out loud they drop everything and throw a party. A Navajo friend explained that a baby’s life is so full of discomfort and the inability to communicate, that when one laughs, it is a celebration (very simplified).
    A fellow teacher and I took a class to learn the language at the Navajo Community College. It is a very difficult language, and singing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” was pretty much the capstone achievement for the first semester. Some Navajo friends encouraged us to sing it for them. At first they started chuckling, and were full-bellied laughing by the time we finished. We thought we were laughing along with them because our pronunciation was clearly off. Once composed, someone quietly explained that we were saying that Mary had a little lamb that we suckled at our breasts…one small mispronunciation could radically change a meaning.
    If I remember correctly, verb endings conjugate according to the shape, color and use of the object. It’s such a precise language that an average Navajo can cut you to the quick with fewer words and more eloquence than Winston Churchill.
    I’d love to see a debate between a Navajo and a BLM activist!

  5. Semper Gumby says:

    “Uncommon valor was a common virtue.” – Admiral Nimitz after the Battle of Iwo Jima

    One of the flag-raisers atop Mt. Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945, was Cpl. Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian. Fr. Charles Suver celebrated Mass on the summit, probably just before the raising of the second, larger flag (which could be seen across the island and by ships off-shore).

    From his 1993 obituary:

    “Father Suver had just finished supper with some Marines. One officer declared he was sure he could get an American flag from his landing craft to hoist on top of Mount Suribachi, which dominated the island. Another officer jumped into the conversation and said he was sure that he could get the flag to the top of the mountain.

    “Father Suver then piped up, “You get it up there and I’ll say Mass under it.”” [‘RAH!]

    (That was probably Feb. 22)

    When the Marines captured the summit on Feb. 23, Fr. Suver said Mass for about two dozen Marines while fighting continued as the mountain was not yet fully secured. Joe Rosenthal, who photographed the famous flag raising, was Catholic, a convert from Judaism.

    Katherine: Interesting comment.

  6. acardnal says:

    Semper Gumby, great anecdote!

  7. Semper Gumby says:

    Fr. Z: ‘Rah indeed. acardnal: You’re welcome.

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