Monday, January 2, 2012

Navajo Code Talkers

The Navajo code talkers worked in the US Marine Corps in the Pacific Theater in World War II. Their work remained classified for decades after the war. The code talkers were told not to discuss the important service they had provided, and they honored that commitment. Even their families didn't know what they had really done in the war.

Fortunately, the code talkers' work is no longer classified. The Navajo code talkers have an official web site. And some of the World War II code talkers are still alive — including just one of the "original 29" who created the code used with their native language. They made it a code within a code that even other Navajos couldn't decipher. They used their code and language to transmit military information in real time, in the one way that was never broken by the Japanese enemy. Overall, during World War II, the Marine Corps trained a total of 375-420 Navajo recruits to work as code talkers.

The Navajo code talkers are slowly becoming better known. And they are helping to preserve this important part of history, contributing to several books on the subject. Among these, the sole remaining "original 29" code talker is co-author of one book, while men from the second group contributed to another.

We met two of the code talkers — two of the second group of code talkers, the first group after the original 29 — who used the code in the Marine Corps' island-hopping campaign across the Pacific Ocean. They are among the men who contributed to the code talker memoir. These two men, and their code talker compatriots, are working to fund tribal educational endowments.

Kee Etsicitty and Jack Jones at a book signing
in Albuquerque, New Mexico, December 2011

Yes, we were proud to buy a copy of their book, and were honored to be able to have them sign it.

So many years later, these men still serve.

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