• The idea to first use the Navajo’s in WWII came from
• He was the son of a missionary to the Navajos and he was also
one of the few non-Navajos who spoke their language
• Johnston was a WWI veteran who new about the military’s
need for a code for WWII that could not be deciphered if
• He also knew that Native American Languages were used in
WWI to create and send messages.
But why the Navajo languauge..
• The Navajo language is an unwritten one with no alphabet or
symbols and was only spoken on Navajo lands in the United
• Its syntax and tonal qualities made it very hard to
comprehend without lots of exposure and practice with the
• It was also said that less than 30 non-Navajo’s could
understand the language when WWII occurred and none were
of Japanese decent.
• Also the Navajo’s themselves could encode, transmit, and
decode a three lined English message in 20 seconds and
machines of the time required at least 30 minutes to perform
the same task.
Navajo language is accepted into WWII
• In 1942 Johnston met with Major General
Clayton B. Vogel to try to convince him to use
• After he was convinced, due to many
extremities of the language Vogel
recommended to the Marines to recruit 200
Navajo’s for the war.
Navajo’s attend boot camp
• Soon after in May of 1942, 29 Navajo soldiers
attended boot camp.
• They attended camp at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside,
Navajo’s at boot camp
• Here the first group created the Navajo code.
• By doing this they developed a dictionary and
many different words for military terms.
• Before being sent to the Pacific theater, a
Navajo had to memorize the dictionary and
complete his training.
Navajo duties in war
• The code talkers’ main job was to send and receive,
information on key military troop movements,
orders, and other important battlefield situations
over telephones and radios.
• They also performed general Marine duties.
• The code talkers played a key role in the Capture of Iwo Jima.
• The code talkers here transmitted over 800 errorless
messages which helped the Marines capture the island.
• Also the entire operation to capture the island was directed
through orders that the Navajos would receive and send.
• It was said by Major Howard Connor, 5th Marines signal
officer, “Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never
have taken Iwo Jima.”
Japanese input on the code talkers
• It was said that the Japanese were skilled code
• The Japanese were never able to brake the
code used by the Navajos.
• However, they were able to decipher the
codes that the U.S. Army and Army Air Corps
used during the war.
Facts of the Navajo
• In 1945, about 520 Navajos served in the Marines.
• Around 375-420 of these became code talkers.
• The remaining served in the war in other ways.
• The code talkers were credited with saving countless
number of lives through their work.
• Also the code talkers served in all six Marine divisions
• On June 28, 1969, the Navajo Code talkers received
• The Fourth Marine Division honored the code talkers
with medallions commemorating their efforts in the
• Then on July 28, 1982 the President of the United
States signed a measure stating that August 14 was
“National Navajo Code Talkers Day.”
Code talkers today
• Today, the remaining Navajo Code Talkers
make their headquarters at the Gallup-
McKinley County Chamber of Commerce.
• The Navajo Code Talker Room is open to the
public to view.
• Exhibits of the code talkers tell fascinating
stories of these veterans and their work.
• quot;Cryptology: Navajo Code Talkers in World War II.quot; Naval History and
Heritage Command. 07 May 2009
• quot;How the Navajo Code Talkers helped win World War II.quot; On the road
travelogue based on editor who explores West in an RV motorhome. 07
May 2009 <http://www.outwestnewspaper.com/codetalkers.html>.
• quot;Military.com Content.quot; Benefiting the US Army, US Navy, US Air Force,
Marine Corps, Coast Guard - Military.com. 07 May 2009
• Navajo Code Talkers. 07 May 2009 <http://www.navajocodetalkers.org/>.
• quot;NAVAJO CODE TALKERS WW2 Native American Warriors History Series
Honoring Indian War Veterans.quot; CALIFORNIA INDIAN EDUCATION CALIE
Educational Tribal Website of Calif Native American Indians Families
Reservation and Urban Communities of North America USA Southern CA.
07 May 2009