Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Unbreakable Code: The Testing Begins

Sorry about the gap between posts. I've been at Killer Nashville since last Wednesday. More about that when I finish up with the Code Talkers.

On February 27, 1942, Johnston arrived at Camp Elliott with four Navajos. He considered fluency in this difficult language impossible for anyone who did not grow up speaking it. His plan,therefore, was to recruit not only those men whose first language was Navajo, but who also possessed a fluency in English as well. On the day of the test, Colonel Jones, who had installed a field telephone in the headquarters building and invited General Vogel and his staff to attend, handed the Navajos six messages similar to those used in military operations and gave them an hour to practice. The men used this time to choose Navajo words to substitute for military terms such as dive-bombing and anti-tank gun.

The testing began. A member of the general's staff would write a message and hand it to one of the Navajos, who translated it into his language and relayed it over the field telephone to a Navajo in another room. This man, in turn, would translate it back into English and prepare a written message. Fifteen minutes later General Vogel inspected the translated messages, and the accuracy convinced him that the Navajo language could be used for code purposes. On March 6 he sent the results of the demonstration and Johnston's proposal to the Marine Commandant in Washington, D.C. "The demonstration was interesting and successful," he wrote in the accompanying letter. "Messages were transmitted and received almost verbatim." He also requested the recruitment of 200 Navajos.

Next: Permission Granted

1 comment:

  1. Good post, Linda. I've missed a lot. Didn't realize you were posting so much!