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navajo code talker


IN SERVICE : 384 Enlisted

Service: US Marine Corps - Pacific - 2nd World War.

 

Probably the best known, the story begins with Philip Johnston, a civil engineer from Los Angeles, who proposed the use of Navajo for the United States Marine Corps at the beginning of the Second World War. Johnston, a veteran of the First World War, grew up on the Navajo reserve because he was the son of a missionary sent to the Navajo. He was one of the few non-Navajos who spoke their language fluently. Because the Navajo has a complex grammar, it is only difficult to understand, even for those who understand nearby languages, of the Na-dene family. In addition, the Navajo was at the time an unwritten language. Johnston realized that the Navajo was meeting the military requirement to create an indecipherable code. The Navajo is spoken only on the Navajo lands of the American Southwest, moreover its syntax and sounds, not to mention its dialects, are unintelligible to anyone who does not have a great knowledge of this language. It is estimated that at the outbreak of the Second World War, less than 30 non-Navajos could understand the language.
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Alphabet

Mot de code (anglais)

Mot codé (navajo)

Orthographe moderne

A

Ant

Wol-la-chee

Wóláchííʼ

B

Bear

Shush

Shash

C

Cat

Moasi

Mósí

D

Deer

Be

Bįįh

E

Elk

Dzeh

Dzeeh

F

Fox

Ma-e

Mąʼii

G

Goat

Klizzie

Tłʼízí

H

Horse

Lin

Łį́į́ʼ

I

Ice

Tkin

Tin

J

Jackass

Tkele-cho-gi

Téliichoʼí

K

Kid

Klizzie-yazzi

Tłʼízí yázhí

L

Lamb

Dibeh-yazzi

Dibé yázhí

M

Mouse

Na-as-tso-si

Naʼastsʼǫǫsí

 

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Navaho enlistment letter page02

       

N

Nut

Nesh-chee

Neeshchʼííʼ

O

Owl

Ne-ash-jah

Néʼéshjaaʼ

P

Pig

Bi-sodih

Bisóodi

Q

Quiver

Ca-yeilth

kʼaaʼ yeiłtįįh

R

Rabbit

Gah

Gah

S

Sheep

Dibeh

Dibé

T

Turkey

Than-zie

Tązhii

U

Ute

No-da-ih

Nóódaʼí

V

Victor

a-keh-di-glini

Akʼehdidlíní

W

Weasel

Gloe-ih

Dlǫ́ʼii

X

Cross

Al-an-as-dzoh

Ałnáʼázdzoh

Y

Yucca

Tsah-as-zih

Tsáʼásziʼ

Z

Zinc

Besh-do-gliz

Béésh 

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In early 1942, Johnston had an interview with General Clayton B. Vogel and the General Commander of the Pacific Fleet Amphibious Corps. Johnston organized tests under simulated combat conditions that showed Navajos could code, transmit and decode a three-line message in English in 20 seconds, compared with 30 minutes for machines of the time. The idea was accepted, Vogel recommended that the Marines recruit 200 Navajos. The first 29 Navajo recruits incorporated the training camp in May 1942. This first group then created the Navajo code at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California. The Navajo code was officially developed and modeled on the same phonetic alphabet as that of the United States Navy and Army (the Joint Army / Navy Phonetic Alphabet), which uses whole English words to represent letters (see radio alphabet). As it was found that to say letter by letter the phonetic spelling for military terms - in combat - was too time consuming, certain terms, concepts, tactics, and instruments of war had descriptive nomenclatures only in Navajo (the word "apple"). "earth" is used to refer to a hand grenade, or "turtle" to a tank, for example). Many of these suitcases (like gofasters, literally "go faster", referring to running shoes, "ink sticks" for pens) have entered the Marine Corps vocabulary and are commonly used today to designate the appropriate objects.
 

 

 

As the war progressed, codewords were added to the program. In other cases, shortened and unofficial code words were designed for a given campaign and were not used beyond the area of ​​operation. In order to ensure consistent use of code terminology throughout the Pacific War, code-talkers from each of the US Marine Divisions met in Hawaii to discuss code gaps, to incorporate new terms into the code. the system, and update their dictionaries. These representatives in turn formed other code talkers who could not attend the meeting. For example, the Navajo word for buzzard, jeeshóó, was used for bomber, while the code word used for submarine, Loo Beesh, meant "iron fish" in Navajo.
 

 

The Navajo was an interesting choice for the use of a code because few people outside the Navajo reserve had learned to speak that language. Virtually no books in Navajo had been published. Apart from the language itself, the spoken code in Navajo was not very complex for cryptographic standards and would probably have been decrypted if a native speaker and trained cryptographers had worked together effectively. The Japanese had the opportunity to try when they captured Joe Kieyoomia in the Philippines in 1942 during the Bataan death march. Kieyoomia, a Navajo sergeant in the US military, who was not a talker code, was forced to interpret radio messages later in the war. However, since Kieyoomia did not participate in the training to use the code, the messages did not make sense to him. When he said he could not understand the messages, his captors tortured him. Given the simplicity of the alphabet code in question, it is likely that the code could have been broken easily if Kieyoomia's knowledge of the Navajo language had been exploited more effectively by Japanese cryptographers. The Japanese imperial army and the navy have never managed to decrypt the code.
 

 

 

Codetalkers960

The Code Talkers received no homage until the decommissioning of the operation in 1968. In 1982, code talkers received a certificate of recognition from US President Ronald Reagan, who also declared August 14, 1982, "the day of Navajo code talkers." ".

On December 21, 2000, the US Congress passed the Public Law Law "106-554, 114 Status 2763", signed by President Bill Clinton, which awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the first twenty-nine Navajo Code Talkers. of the Second World War, and the silver medal to each person recognized as speaking the Navajo code.

In July 2001, US President George W. Bush personally handed the gold medal to four original survivors code talkers (the fifth could not attend for health reasons) at a ceremony held in the dome from Capitol Hill to Washington. Gold medals were awarded to families of the original 24 code talkers posthumously.

 

 
 

Last edited: 11/12/2018