28 kills in Service
A code talker ("talking code") refers to a person who speaks using a coded language.
It is more commonly used to describe North Native American who served in the United States Army whose main task was the transmission of coded tactical messages. These men transmitted these messages via military phones or radios using formal or informal codes based on their mother tongue. Their service was invaluable, as it improved the security of communications from the bulk of front-line operations during the two world wars.
This story is strongly associated with the Navajo speakers specially recruited for the Pacific Theater of the Second World War. Nevertheless, in addition to the Navajos, 25 other languages can be traced. The first known use being that of Cherokee of North Carolina, in the Somme, early October 1918.
Cheyenne and Arapaho (?)
Ho Chunk (8)
Muscogee Creek (1)
Sioux (Lakota-Dakota-Oglala) (125)
We are actually talking about two systems of code. During the First World War, Code Talkers were content to speak only in their mother tongue at the telephone.
In the inter-war period, the Germans studied Native American languages by sending anthropologists to the USA. These known facts led to the development of a new system of code, based on both a coding of the terms but also on the mother tongue. The success of the code was due to the fact that the majority of Indian languages were transmitted by sound. The tone of the voice and the pronunciation could differ between two different clans, it reduced the chances of sending false messages. Coders were trained to pronounce sounds and words in the same way. Add to that an encrypting alphabet, the system could only be translated by a non-encoding Indian in case of capture by the enemy.
In 1942, the Navajo Joe Kieyoomia was captured by the Japanese in the Philippines. Surviving the deadly march of Bataan, these kidnappers asked him to translate the radio messages. Untrained for the code, Kieyoomia explained that the message made no sense to him, he was tortured by the Japanese.
If the code had been a simple translation of Navajo, Kieyoomia could have translated the message and the Japanese would have exploited the messages sent to win the war.
The code talkers received no recognition until 1968, when their story was first made public. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan issued a certificate of recognition to code talkers and introduced August 14 "Navajo Code Talkers Day".
On September 17, 2007, 18 code talkers choctaws were posthumously honored with the Texas Medal of Bravery by the Adjutant General of the State of Texas for their service during the Second World War.
On November 15, 2008, the Code Talker Law (Public Law 110-420) was signed by President George W. Bush. This law attributes to all Amerindian Code Talkers who served in the United States Army during the First World War or World War II (with the exception of those already awarded to the Navajos) a Gold Medal from Each tribe's own design congress (kept by the Smithsonian Institution), and a duplicate of the Silver Medal to each code talkers.
Last edited: 08/04/2018