AncestorEbooks Announces August 16 is National Code Talkers Day

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AncestorEbooks announces August 16 is National Code Talkers Day in which we honor the Navajo Americans who courageously served our country during World War II.

Photo of the Navajo Code Talkers 26 July 2001 when President George W. Bush gave them the Congressional Gold Medal for their Acts of Valor.

Photo of the Navajo Code Talkers 26 July 2001 when President George W. Bush gave them the Congressional Gold Medal for their Acts of Valor.

“Strong words outlast the paper they are written upon.”
― Joseph Bruchac, Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two

Today, August 16, the U.S. will recognize the sacrifices and heroic measures that only 420 men took part. This day is set aside to recognize the men of the Navajo nation which valiantly took part in Navajo code used in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. [] is honored to share the story of bravery and sacrifice from WWII about the Code Talkers, which began with Phillip Johnston, of California.

From the beginning of World War II, Japanese code breakers were able to break every code the United States created. With many Japanese fluent in English, they were then able to sabotage and send false messages, ambushing Allied troops. [] By the battle for Guadalcanal, the coding for messages were so complex that it took hours for encryption and decryption, and the military argued they needed a better way.

Philip Johnston, who had grown up on the Navajo reservation as the son of a Protestant missionary, read about the dilemma in a newspaper article about an armored division in Louisiana that was attempting to come up with a code for transmitting military communications and he thought of the Navajo language. At the time, less than 30 non-Navajos were able to speak the language fluently and because the Navajo language had no alphabet it was nearly impossible to learn without exposure from a young age.

Johnston impressed top commanders with a demonstration, then he and recruiters visited the Navajo reservation; an elite unit was formed in early 1942 with 29 Navajo Code Talkers. The initial code, although changed and expanded during the war, was first conceived by these "original 29."

The "original 29,” most just boys, had grown up on the reservation and had a difficult time adjusting to military life, but they worked day & night to create and learn the code. Because of the lack of birth certificates it wasn’t discovered until after the war that some of the recruits were only 15 years old when they enlisted. []

These young warriors were tested and retested to prove they knew the code, because one mistake in translating could lead to the deaths of thousands. [] All but two of the original 29 were then immediately sent to Guadalcanal to try the code in combat. The remaining two enlistees instructed future Navajo code talkers.

This code is the only unbroken code in modern military history. It confounded the Japanese that even when they captured and tortured a Navajo soldier, he was unable to break the code. Marine cryptologists said that they were unable to transcribe the language, let alone decode it. []

The code was never to be written down on the battlefield, so the recruits were trained constantly with the 411 terms used to send and receive messages. [] For three years the Navajo Code Talkers, which had increased from 29 recruits to 420 Navajo men, participated in numerous battles in the Pacific Theater of Operations including Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Peleliu, and Tarawa. []

The following quote is from Doris A. Paul the author of the 1979 book, The Navajo Code Talkers, "For three years wherever the Marines landed, the Japanese got an earful of strange gurgling noises interspersed with other sounds resembling the call of a Tibetan monk and the sound of a hot water bottle being emptied."

"The Navajo Code Talkers were kept secret until the 1960s because they were the reason many important battles were won. During the first few hours of the battle of Iwo Jima alone, the code talkers sent nearly 800 messages. Their stories deserve to be told," said Gayla Mendenhall of AncestorEbooks.

On July 26, 2001, the "original 29" were recognized for their Acts of Valor by receiving the Congressional Gold Medal from President George W. Bush. Four of the five living code talkers, and the families of the remaining 24, received the medal during a special ceremony. []

Mrs. Mendenhall continues, "The stories of these men of the Navajo nation, who stepped up when called to save America, need to be shared. These men volunteered for the Navajo Code Talkers program, knowing that death was a possibility, and until the program was officially declassified in 1968 they were unable to tell their stories. understands the need for heroic history and asks America to tell their ancestors' stories and teach our youth of the proud heritage they share."

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Cristina Besendorfer
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